Scouring the streets for perfect scenery is not the first task that would come to mind when thinking about a musical. Musicals don’t normally leave a dance studio or an auditorium stage, but Laredo Theater Guild International prides itself on the resources it dedicates to make a production go beyond the stage. The last weekend of June was spent under the sweltering Laredo sun in efforts to create a promotional video and bring the life of In the Heights to Laredo’s television viewers.
Laredo’s historical district boasts an array of aesthetics ranging from peaceful plazas to buildings dating back to the early 1800s. Adjacent to the Outlet Shoppes of Laredo, the 200 block of Juarez St. became the colorful backdrop of the In the Heights video promo.
Days prior to the filming, the cast spent hours rehearsing their new dance numbers. Debuting their choreography outside of the theater, actors and dancers took to the streets in an attempt to capture the different stories from In the Heights.
The director of Laredo Theater Guild International’s In the Heights production, Marco Gonzalez, had a single vision in mind – film a video that would thoroughly capture the dynamic and diverse voices of the musical’s characters. And he was prepared to do what was necessary to film a perfect video, even if it meant sitting on a chair placed on a rolling metal platform.
From the storefront’s creaking metal gates to the incomparable sight of a piragua cart, the video strings together a series of snippets to create a glimpse into the world of Washington Heights — but what would a video be without showcasing the contagious dances and vibrant music of In the Heights?
Although it is impossible to include every song, I watched each scene smoothly transition into another until the video was a seamless 24-second clip comprised of three songs from the score. Fifteen takes and roughly three hours in Laredo’s ever-increasing heat later, the director’s idea became a reality.
A reality that promptly included cheers of relief as filming was over and lunch was the only thing left. Though the heat plagued the cast and crew, it also heightened the feeling of success once Mark approved of the footage.
Observing every retake and even becoming the appointed holder of a wig made me feel as if I was an integral part of the something special, which in retrospect, I was. I cannot think of similar situations where I had the opportunity to watch something of this caliber unfold. The work that I have seen dedicated to this show alone has been sufficient to highlight the tenacity of both the cast and crew to make this entire thing a success.
I may have left the filming with several mosquito bites and slight dehydration, but the beauty of writing while actors worked so hard to perfect their scenes for a promo video made the entire endeavor worthwhile. The heat was not at all welcomed so early in the morning, but the cast and crew didn’t let a thing like heat get in the way of filming.