Lights up on Washington Heights, up at the break of day
I wake up and I got this little punk I gotta chase away
So begins Lin-Manuel Miranda's 2008 Broadway hit. Set in the neighbourhood Washington Heights of NYC, In the Heights is a musical covering three days in the lives of its colorful characters. Usnavi, the main character, runs his family's bodega with his young cousin, Sonny. Vanessa, the oblivious target of Usnavi's attraction, works herself to exhaustion to buy her way to a better life. The Rosarios run their taxi business and support their brilliant young daughter, Nina.In the Heights is especially notable for being the first Broadway musical of its kind, a combination of rap, hip-hop and Latin. Needless to say, it's some kind of awesome.Warning: Soundtrack is guaranteed to lead to side effects of toe-tapping, humming and spontaneous dancing.
Subverted in that Sonny is fairly intelligent with a comically strong vocabulary (he seems to take after Usnavi a bit) and interest in politics and social activism. He also has shades of being the Only Sane Man as his introspections on what Usnavi's departure and the closing of the surrounding shops means for the community causes him to despair when others are partying.
Author Avatar: Usnavi, obviously, as the creator played him on Broadway (and he named his character's Love Interest after his wife).
The Bechdel Test: Passes. The cast is evenly split between genders and there are numerous conversations between the female characters about topics other than men, such as when Daniela helps Vanessa with her living situation.
Beta Couple: Benny and Nina...which is an odd example, because they're given as much stagetime and development as (if not more than) the Official Couple.
Bittersweet Ending: There's some happy endings, some sad and everyone's lives have changed. Benny and Nina in particular They're going to be forced to have a long distance relationship without the approval of her dad. But they have each other
Usnavi: "Damn, this is nice/I really like what they've done with the lights/so the hot club in Washington Heights!/You might be right, this music's tight/Yo, did I mention that you look great tonight?/Because you do you really-"
Vanessa: "Usnavi, relax!"
Vanessa: You oughta stay/ You can use that money to fix this place/ And it's not like Sonny's got role models stepping up to the plate./ I'm just saying, I think your vacation can wait...
Usnavi: What are you trying to say?
Anyone looking for "artistic merit" to justify this awesome play to Broadway purists can point out that Champagne (both song and object) is a complex metaphor for Usnavi and Vanessa's unspoken feelings (and their inability to admit them).
Chekhov's Pills: In Act I, Usnavi reminds Abuela Claudia to take her heart medication; in Act II, not taking her medicine, the heat, and the shock of winning the lottery all contribute to her death
Crowd Song: "In The Heights", "96,000", "Blackout", "Carnaval del Barrio", and "Finale".
Evolving Music: In 96,000, Sonny sings "What about immigration/Politicians be hating/Racism in this nation's gone from latent to blatant". After some high-profile political racefail hit the news, the line was changed to "Arizona be hating".
Final Love Duet: Two. "Champagne" for Usnavi and Vanessa and "When the Sun Goes Down" for Nina and Benny.
Generic Graffiti: "Graffiti Pete" is seen as a blight on the neighborhood (though he is friends with Sonny), and the musical begins with him attempting to tag Usnavi's bodega. At the end of the show he has, with Sonny's help, painted the bodega with a beautiful mural of Abuela Claudia.
Hello, Nurse!: Vanessa is a tame version of this trope. Usnavi and most of the guys drool over her but no one actually gets ridiculous about it (as in it never gets to Informed Attractiveness levels). Vanessa herself doesn't think it's that big of a deal.
Heterosexual Life-Partners: Daniela and Carla. Sonny and Graffiti Pete of all people come across as this. Benny and Usnavi also have some shade of this.
"I feel like all my life I'm trying to find the answers/Working harder/Learning Spanish/Learning all I can/I thought I might find the answer out at Stanford/But I'd just stare out at the sea thinking/Where am I supposed to be?"
Kissing In A Tree: In the song "Carnaval Del Barrio" in Act 2, Daniela asks Benny if he's "seen any horses, today", having heard that he and Nina "went for a roll in the hay". The whole cast then proceeds to sing said song.
"My mom is Dominican-Cuban/My dad is from Chile and PR which means/I'm Chiledominicarican/But I always say I'm from Queens."
Mood Whiplash: A few examples, the biggest being "Alabanza" following the peppy "Carnaval del Barrio".
Motor Mouth: Usnavi can sometimes be like this, especially in the "one dollar, two dollars..." part of the opening number.
Overlaps with Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness to a minor extent. Usnavi has a noticeably greater vocabulary and can fire off complex metaphors off the top of his head, as seen when he tries to chat up a hot girl at the club.
Never Win the Lottery: Subverted, as it is a major plot point that somebody in the neighborhood actually did win the lottery. Though the $96,000 prize is not enough to make the winner fabulously wealthy, it is nonetheless a considerable sum. The trope is played straight when the winner, Abuela Claudia, dies before she can make use of the money. Then it's subverted again, since Usnavi and Sonny get to keep their shares of the winnings.
Oblivious to Love: Subverted with Vanessa. She seems to be a more then a little aware of Usnavi's feelings but plays dumb since she is denial about her own feelings.
One of Us: Lin-Manuel Miranda reads slash fic for In the Heights and live tweets Buffy. Oh, and he wrote a rap for Neil Patrick Harris.
Say My Name: After Nina's dinner and when Kevin reveals he has sold the family business to pay for Nina's college tuition, Nina tells her father that she will never use this money as it has lost Benny his job. She proceeds to follow Benny to the club. At this, Kevin yells "NIINAAAAAAAAAA!"
Sexy Shirt Switch: When Nina joins Benny on his fire escape, she's wearing his shirt, making it pretty obvious what's happened between them.
Stepford Smiler: Nina attempts to pull this off in the beginning of the show. She fails.
Nina: Straighten the spine, smile for the neighbors/ Everything's fine, everything's cool...
Taxman Takes The Winnings: In the song "$96,000", where it's been announced that someone won the lottery, and everyone is fantasizing about what they'd do with the money, Usnavi points out "You'll have a knapsack full of jack after taxes".
Usnavi seems to take over the role after the finale, acting as the "street-light" for the community—providing illumination, learning and passing on their shared stories and heritages, and binding them together. And, of course, providing sweet, sweet coffee.
Token Non-Latino: Benny, who is almost always played by a black man, though theoretically could be played any other ethnicity.
Graffiti Pete can be any ethnicity as well, the most common being Latino and white.