Standing in the shadow of its big-brother Broadway mega-hit Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2008 debut musical, In the Heights, might look like a little guy. But the American immigration story of Dominican Republic-born Usnavi and his family is no sleeper, having received four Tony Awards, a nod as a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, and applause for its adaptability for large and small theater organizations. Its themes of gentrification, poverty, love, and loss made riveting with exuberant staging and inherently relevant through Miranda’s rapid-fire mashup of hip-hop, rap, and classic pop songs. If you didn’t get lucky and score those $10 tickets to Hamilton (and don’t have $1,500 for a scalper), or if you wonder, “How in the heck will director Ryan Weible jam a large, racially-diverse cast of twirling characters onto the less-than-Broadway-size El Cerrito theater stage, then you need to come to the little guy, In the Heights, for some big insights.
June 9-July 16, $15-35, Contra Costa Civic Theatre, 951 Pomona Avenue, El Cerrito. CCCT.org.