Downey High School Drama Department Reaches New Heights

Oscar Flores, Copy Editor

After their performance of Grease the previous year, the DHS drama department returned to the Downey Theatre for their production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights. The showings spanned three days, from March 21-23.


Conceived by Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes, In the Heights follows a close-knit family in the primarily hispanic area of Washington Heights as they experience turbulent changes in their community.


The play’s central focus lies in hope amidst future change, with the main cast – Nina (Angie Valenzuela, 11), Benny (Michael Macias, 12) , Usnavi (Giovanni Ferreira, 12), and Vanessa (Andrea Borrero, 12) – deciding what traditions they will take with them and which ones they will leave behind.  As graduation approaches, ensemble member and senior Kianna Maglaqui holds this theme close to her heart.


“I still have a post-show depression knowing the play is over,” Maglaqui stated. “My favorite experience/memory is that I got to work with new people and those new people have been the greatest to me; they treated me like family even though they just met me a couple of months ago.”


Compared to the first act, which is upbeat in nature and celebrates union, the second act serves as necessary contrast by celebrating family as well as individuality.  As the show progressed, each character saw growth in their perspective, with Nina and Benny accepting the natural separation that comes with the passage of time, and Vanessa and Usnavi moving on from their small community to achieve new goals.


“Paciencia y Fe (Patience and Faith)” and “Hundreds of Stories” stand out as popular songs as they elicit waves of nostalgia in listeners. Even though she was unable to attend any of the performances, Alma Rubio, 12, appreciates the soundtrack for the memories it brings back.


“Once again, I didn’t see the show but I can feel the nostalgia from it,” Rubio said. “Just like everything I’ve done in previous years, the nostalgia has been getting to me this last month.”


Now that the musical has concluded, the consensus among the student body is positive, with some students like Dana Zamora, 12, citing the diverse selection of musicals as a good thing.


“Seeing Spanish spoken during the play affected me heavily because I never thought I’d see it be spoken in a school play,” Zamora said.


In the Heights is the second musical to be funded by Dr. Mary Stauffer and to be showcased at the Downey Theatre.  For more information on the drama department, visit Mr. Nelson in A-215.