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Tear Jerker / In the Heights

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  • "Abuela Claudia passed away at noon today." Cue gasps, groans, and sobs from the audience.
  • "Alabanza."
    • Especially Usnavi's speech at the start of the song. "They said a combination of the stress and the heat, why she never took her medicine, I'll never understand. I like to think she went out in peace, with pieces of bread crumbs in her hand."
    • "When she was here, the path was clear/And she was just here/...She was just here..." Sob.
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  • And the song that follows — "Everything I Know".
  • "Inutil". It's a bit harder to understand if one or both of your parents isn't like Kevin...from a different country...working their ass off...just so their kid can have a good future...
    • In at least one showing of the musical, the actor's voice broke on "and he slapped my face."
    • "I will not be the reason that my family can't succeed."
  • Believe it or not, the end of "Carnaval de Barrio". It's a very happy, celebratory song...but it ends with the Piraguero and Daniela singing "Esa bonita bandera! Contiene mi alma entera!" ("This beautiful flag, it holds the whole of my soul"). It may not seem like much, but in a country that's currently having a lot of problems with immigration and racism, a stage full of characters taking pride in their heritage is moving.
    • Plus Sonny's solo in the song shows that he's terrified of his neighborhood disappearing, despite his status as Plucky Comic Relief and sees everyone party and celebrating as them ignoring what's going on around them.
    • The Mood Whiplash at the end. Everyone's dancing and having a good time... and then Nina runs on, Trying Not to Cry if she isn't already, grabs Usnavi, and whispers something in his ear. His face just becomes a look of absolute horror, and he runs straight to Claudia's apartment.
  • "Paciencia y Fe."
  • Pretty much the entirety of "Finale", especially:
    • "Tell everyone we know. Sonny..." Sonny hugs him and Usnavi softens and hugs him back. "Alright, go."
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    • "Abuela, that ain't a stoop, it's your throne."
    • "I found my island, I been on it this whole time."
  • "Breathe." Everything about Nina in this song - being worried about what her parents will say, being vague when people ask about it, and trying to reconcile that failure with her reputation as The One Who Made It Out - is dead-on Truth in Television for overachieving students who flunk out of college or almost do so.
  • Vanessa and Usnavi's First Kiss seems framed like a Now or Never Kiss, minus life-or-death stakes. Vanessa plants it after apparently failing to convince Usnavi not to leave New York, and laments afterwards that it seems "too late" for them to form a lasting romance.
  • "Blackout" is overall an awesome song, but Usnavi and Vanessa lose track of each other so he can help Abuela Claudia and Sonny. Vanessa is left afraid and alone, and it puts a rift between her and Usnavi.
    • "We are powerless... we are powerless!"
    • It's downplayed because of the staging, but what would have it looked like in-universe? Picture a club, pitch-black except for the light of phone screens, a panicking, screaming, shoving crowd... It was bad enough in normal situations that Vanessa complained earlier, "You can't even go to a club without having somebody shove you,". In real life, people have been trampled to death in such situations.
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    • Graffiti Pete tries to persuade Sonny to get to safety, but Sonny refuses, since the bodega is already a sitting duck for robbers. Sonny's a teenage boy, and he wants to sit there with a baseball bat and guard the family business alone. And all Pete can do to help is throw some fireworks in the hopes of scaring the robbers off. And it doesn't work.
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