Thursday, March 28, 2013

Getting Cast! Members of the Ensemble reflect on being cast in IN THE HEIGHTS

Today we spend time with three different cast members as they share with us what it was like for them to not only audition, but be cast in what is the biggest show to hit Fort Worth in some time!

AIGNER MATHIS - Now I'm Artes de la Rosa Too!

My heart thumped so loudly in my chest when I first walked into the dance call backs for the Artes de la Rosa production of In The Heights, I was sure everyone else could hear it. Looking around I saw so many young, handsome, beautiful (and extremely flexible) talented performers, so I did what any other person would do: sat down, stretched along with them & decided that since I had shown up,
I might as well show out! It came to no surprise that everyone else had the exact same thought!
A week later, I walked into the theatre for the first cast meeting and was stunned! Instantly, Adam's arms were crushing me in an enormous hug while other hands and arms quickly replaced his. I have never been received with such warmth in my life. If it had not been for the name tags everyone wore, there would have been no way to distinguish who was a lead and who was in the ensemble. Faces blended together so easily, and laughter rang from every where in the room.

It was clear during introductions that the cast was filled with enough personality to fill the stage every night for the next year and still have more left over for another six months. Each and every person chosen was cast perfectly! Almost everyone already embodied the essence of their characters, no script needed. I knew then that the show would be easy (not to be confused: nothing would be easy about rehearsals; "Go home, get on a treadmill & sing your butts off" Adam told us) but easy in a sense of community, friendships, and the family spirit.
Later, while watching the PBS documentary on the history of the Rose Marine Theatre, I was incredibly educated and inspired. Suddenly being apart of In the Heights was about much more than having fun at rehearsals and being able to add something to my resume. I realized the importance of the show and how it would effect the community. I wasn't just an actress anymore…I was Artes de la Rosa, and much like everyone else I was one step closer to finding home.
 Theatrically Yours,
Aigner Mathis

KEVIN ACOSTA - It's Just Starting to Sink In

So I want to be completely open and honest. Before I had been cast or even heard about the auditions, let alone really know how big of a deal this show was in general, I had never even heard a song from the show.
I literally remember YEARS before in 2008 when the show opened and exploded into the phenomenal show that it is, I had every person in choir who even remotely liked good music and theatre bumping these CDs and knowing every word about some new musical called “In The Heights”. I’m pretty sure I had three different people: 1) ask me if I had heard about the show, (2 be shocked that I hadn’t, and (3 proceeded to burn me a copy of the original Broadway soundtrack within the following days. Unfortunately, for me, I would never get around to listening to the soundtrack.
So when I heard about the auditions for the show I was more than a little disappointed in myself for never taking the time to listen to them. I went into auditions knowing the very basics: It was a show pretty much for Hispanic people AND the leads RAPPED. I was sold. Callbacks were ridiculous! With more than 50 of the most talented people around and most of them knowing the show like the back of their hand, I was more than a little intimidated. Not to mention being at a new theatre that I had never been to. It was, if you’ll go there with me, a Leap of Faith.
But as fate would have it, none of that would matter cause I would be cast in the show despite all of that. I was beyond ecstatic to hear that I would be a part of this amazing show with an amazing (and also really, really, really ridiculously good looking) cast!
So after we found out we were cast we had be secretive about it and not tell a soul. And while we waited to be able to tell everybody our amazing news, I watched videos from the show and kept tabs on Director Adam Adolfo and what he would next reveal to us let alone to the world. I kept discovering a little more about the show here and there through clips and people just letting me know what they know.

Then all of a sudden one day I woke up and we’re on the

 That’s when it really started sinking in.

But what really got me was our Cast Greet & Meet. I, of course, was still working when it started and would arrive, fashionably, 45 minutes late. I was greeted with the most, legit, warm welcome from the cast and we started our meeting. In 4 hours, Adam Adolfo would help change my outlook on not only the show, but on topics IN MY LIFE that I can genuinely say that he has helped changed for the better. I would learn about the history of Artes De La Rosa; where it came from, what it stands for, and how as a young Hispanic what it means to the community and myself. It would give you a sense of pride for the journey that we would begin to embark on whether you were Hispanic or not.
I would get to watch a documentary about the original cast’s journey up to opening night. A journey that will be, without a doubt, just as intimate and special to everyone involved in this production. And last but not least, we come to this night. The night that I would actually sit down at my computer and listen to the soundtrack all the way through while I followed along in my libretto. All I can say is wow. It’s cheesy and they say it ain’t easy being cheesy but I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job so far. I was in tears by the end of the Finale.
Everything just makes sense when you know more about it, you know? After getting know the little I, MYSELF, know about the show and what it means to this theater and what it meant to Lin-Manuel Miranda, I can proudly say that I have never been more excited about a show than I am now about this show.

Thank you Adam. Thank you for giving us this chance to be apart of something so special and so much bigger than ourselves!

BENICKA JANAEE GRANT - "Dreams Do Come True!"

Getting cast in In The Heights was such a shock. I had no idea what In The Heights even was when I was told about the audition. A friend of mine, Michael Sylvester who is playing Graffiti Pete, told me that the play was Urban and that they needed some dancers. I said “Oh what the heck, Ill go for it. What I didn’t know was that I would have to sing. I am NOT a singer…..AT ALL! I was mortified. “What the hell had I gotten myself in to??” The day of the singing audition I was terrified. I was shaking and sweating like I never had before. Thank God that once I got on stage to sing, I just had to sing for the pianist and just do a few scales. The next day, I went in to the dance audition and gave it 110 percent. I had to show the production team that I may not be a great singer but I can dance my butt off. I wanted to leave the audition knowing that even if I didn’t get cast, I did something I’ve never done before; I sang at an audition and gave my absolute best in both the dance and singing portion.

The next day, March 12, 2013 at 12:58 pm, I received the email, letting me know that I had been cast in In the Heights. “Are you kidding me right now?” was the first thought to come to my head. I read the email a couple of times to make sure it said what I thought it did. YEP, it did! I wanted to get on Facebook and let the world know the great news, but I couldn’t.  In the mean time, I researched all I could about In the Heights so I knew what kind of musical I had gotten myself in to.  Finally, on March 21, it had been announced on Facebook that the Ft. Worth production of In the Heights was revealed on NO FREAKING WAY!! That’s when it really hit me. The feeling you get when you see your name on a website like, is indescribable.  I began to cry. For me, this was huge. I had never been in a real Broadway show.  “Would I be able to do this?” “Did I make the right decision by accepting the offer?” “Is this right for me?” “Am I ready for this challenge?’……………….YES!

In 23 years of my life, I would have never thought that I would be doing a musical and actually singing in it. I had always been just a dancer. Everyday, I thank Michael Sylvester for telling me about the audition. He has motivated me and become a mentor and an amazing friend throughout this process. I look forward to working with a truly gifted cast of people. I am so blessed, honored and humbled. I know the road to this production will not be easy. There will be many tears and lots of days when I tell myself I can’t do and want to give up, but I will keep going and become a better performer and a better person after it is over with. DFW better get ready for us! The cast of In the Heights is coming with a vengeance. #dreamsdocometrue
The Article referenced on can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Monday, March 25, 2013

MEET & GREET: Photo Blogging with Music Director Kristin Spires

Yesterday 26 of the brightest and best singer/dancer/actors met at Artes de la Rosa's home, The Rose Marine Theater to begin a journey toward what everyone could feel will be a very special production of the Tony Award Winning Musical, IN THE HEIGHTS. The cast and crew spent several hours together on Sunday evening, eating, talking, and being merry as they got to know eachother, learned about the history of the Rose Marine, and experienced small tastes of the genius that is Lin Manuel Miranda's masterful musical. Musical Director Kristin Spires took to her IPHONE and captured many of the special moments throughout the evening. These are just a few of those moments...

Artes de la Rosa welcoming everyone to their new home for the next 10 weeks.

Artistic Director Adam Adolfo got to flex his party planning skills for this Meet & Greet! Check it out!

Nachos made with 4 different types of cheeses including smoked gouda and green chiles?! Where's the plates?

Now that's what we call a spread! Let's eat!

That's quite the spread - the cast was very full at the end of the night...

But not so full that they didn't have time for the Tres Leches Cake!

Cast members posing for a pic... say Cheese! Or should we say NACHOS?!

Some of the ladies of the Heights!

We're kinda fabulous. No big deal!

One of these things is not like the other!

Artistic Director Adam Adolfo going over paperwork...

...and even more paperwork!

Artistic Director talks to the cast about 'reinvisioning the heights' - not reinventing. It's important to make the distinction that reinventing is about change while reinvisioning is about changing the way we see!

Adam Adolfo and Heights Star Matt Randsell have a small suprise for the cast...

Letters and well wishes were sent to the cast and read by Adam and Matt from members of the original broadway cast of In the Heights! In this photo Matt is reading a note from the Original Broadway Latin Dance Choreographer...

One final moment from cast members before we say goodnight...

IN THE HEIGHTS OPENS MAY 17th! See you then!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

REACHING NEW HEIGHTS: Matt Randsell Jr. talks on dreams realized...

Over the next 6 weeks we will get to know members of the cast of IN THE HEIGHTS which is recieving it's Fort Worth debut this May at the Rose Marine Theatre. Today we spend time blogging with Matt "Superman" Randsell, Jr. who will be starring as Usnavi, the hip hop bodega owner of Washington Heights.

"Personally, I feel like there’s a task we all have to do as people before we truly decide what we plan to do with our lives. Since our younger days, people harp on us about “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, they preach to us about setting goals and how to plan, they also encourage us to dream big and to shoot for the stars. However somewhere along the line, we have to decide for ourselves if any of these things are even related or applicable. I mean sure, they all sound positive, and progressive, but how do they work, which ones matter more, and which are even possible. See, some of us are lucky, we have a dream and we’re on a one-way street to that destination with all of the support and encouragement we could ask for, and that’s pretty cool. However, I think most of us, myself, didn’t find it that easy. You see, to me, dreams seemed fictional, they were something to keep my imagination flowing, but not necessarily something to invest much into. I had dreams of spot lights, autograph signings, applause, however when I was asked “What do you want to be?” my answers ranged from lawyers, to teachers, to broadcast journalist. Dreams were unrealistic, and due to an environment that discourages the unrealistic, and encourages the possible, the mediocre, I started applying myself more to my simple goals than to my dreams. Excelling in general courses such as English, history, geography, and athletics, seemed more necessary than taking theatre, art, or music classes seriously. See, I truly believe that my teachers, and parents, they were right in encouraging me to follow the safe path, the secure path. I mean, realistically it’s a lot less scary, and a lot less bumpy of a ride. And for the most part, I stuck with the plan, the goals seemed more obtainable and spoke to me, louder than the dreams did. Dreaming was fun, but it was never clear, it never seemed obtainable. Then there’s this moment, most performers know what I’m talking about, when I say this moment that defines your passion for what you do. Something happens, you see, hear, try something that makes you feel as if you just woke up for the first time, your senses crisper than ever. Some call it, their calling, but as the moment I saw Lin Manuel Miranda rapping at the Tony awards, this whole “dream” of mine, seemed possible. Seemed realistic. Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t my intention to put all of my eggs in this basket, however there didn’t seem to be an alternative. Nothing seemed as fulfilling, or rewarding. Performing now, auditioning, traveling, rehearsing, had a different taste to it. It was undeniable. I was officially packed up and on the path, and by then, there was no turning back." - Matt Ransdell Jr. #Usnavi #InTheHeightsFW
Matt is a particularly interesting and inspiring young man and no stranger to the Heights having been called back for the role of Usnavi on Broadway, and both National Tours, he is incredibly honored to be officially cast as his dream role for the first time ever in his home state of Texas. Matt's journey on that audition was documented on the online series JOURNEYME. See it below.