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‘In the Heights’ production strives to break down barriers in theater community

‘In the Heights’ production strives to break down barriers in theater community
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 9:25 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The streets of New York came to life this past weekend at the Bartlett High School theater during the opening weekend of SoBroSol production of “In the Heights.”

The show highlights different parts of the Latinx community. SoBroSol Executive Director Daniel Alfalla said that this was a reason why they chose to put on “In The Heights.” The theater group strives to empower and bring to light the Alaska Latinx community — a demographic they feel is underrepresented in the Anchorage community. This production, they said, helps bring to life their stories through the arts.

“Some of these underrepresented communities, we just feel strongly about giving them a chance to get on stage and to be able to shine, tell their stories through the arts and sort of be in charge of telling their own stories,” Alfalla said.

Alfalla said many theater productions often tend to be limited in role diversity and typecasting becomes an issue as they lack characters that represent their diverse communities.

“I would say 90% or more of musicals are made for CisHet white people, and so a lot of the times those are the people who are going to get cast in those roles,” cast member Kendra Arciniega said.

Arciniega said that “In the Heights” allows members of the Latinx and Black, Indigenous and persons of color communities to find characters to play that represent a part of themselves.

“It’s a really special thing and it is important to find people who fit those roles, fit those experiences, those lived experiences,” said Arciniega.

Performers said that while Anchorage does have a diverse community, that is not always seen on stage, which is something they said that their production is hoping to change.

“I especially don’t get to play being a Black man in America all the time. Usually it’s like, oh we have a quirky character whose racially ambiguous,” cast member Kenndrick Horton said. “So being like, ‘Hey this character is a Black man,’ is something that I know and I feel comfortable doing.”

Members of the SoBroSol cast and crew said they feel they are breaking down a barrier that has been living in the theater world.

“It’s definitely something to look forward to because it’s not something you see especially in Anchorage all the time,” Horton said. “Even though it’s what accurately portrays our community and everything, it’s not what is portrayed at the average theater.”

Cast members hope that the production will help bring silenced stories to life and bring further representation in the theater community.

“Usually you’ll see like, ‘Oh here’s a little diversity, a little sprinkle, a little taste of it,’ but I’m like that’s not all we have to offer, there’s a lot more out there, and ‘In the Heights’ definitely showcases that and brings it to the table for everyone to see,” Horton said.

The show runs through May 22 at the Bartlett High School theater. Tickets can be purchased on EventBrite.

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