‘In the Heights’: The Subtle ‘Hamilton’ Easter Egg Fans Might Have Missed
The film adaptation for the Broadway musical In the Heights finally hit theaters and HBO Max on June 11, 2021. The movie, directed by Jon. M Chu, takes place in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. In the Heights is told from the perspective of Usnavi de la Vega (portrayed by Anthony Ramos), a young bodega owner who dreams of returning home to the Dominican Republic to take over his late father’s business. Usnavi introduces viewers to several other members of the Washington Heights community, each with their own dreams for better lives.
In the Heights even featured references to other Broadway musicals, including a brief Hamilton moment. Even the greatest Hamilton fans might have missed this subtle Easter egg.
Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote ‘Hamilton’ and music for ‘In the Heights’
Set centuries apart, Hamilton and In the Heights may not seem like they’d have a connection. However, the musicals do have a key person in common: Lin-Manuel Miranda. The actor wrote the music, lyrics, and the book for Hamilton, which premiered on Broadway in 2015. The hit musical told the story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.
In addition to Hamilton, Miranda wrote the music and lyrics for In the Heights, while playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes penned the book. Miranda and Hudes produced the film alongside Scott Sanders, Anthony Bregman, and Mara Jacobs.
Miranda himself grew up in the Washington Heights neighborhood and began writing the musical in college. In the Heights is not quite a true story, but Miranda had a very real love for the community.
‘In the Heights’ film featured a brief ‘Hamilton’ Easter egg
While working on the In the Heights set, Miranda took the opportunity to throw in a brief Hamilton reference. As Metro noted, when Nina’s (Leslie Grace) father, Kevin (Jimmy Smits), calls the Bursar’s office at Stanford University to talk about Nina’s tuition payments, the office places his call on hold. As he waits, Hamilton‘s “You’ll Be Back” plays as hold music. The moment only features instrumentals for a few seconds, so it takes a careful ear to catch the Easter egg.
In Hamilton, King George III (originally portrayed by Jonathan Groff) sings “You’ll Be Back” to express how he feels about the American colonists breaking away from the British Empire.
The movie had a few other ‘Hamilton’ connections, too
The snippet of Hamilton music is not the only reference to appear in the film. A few In the Heights cast members come from Hamilton fame, including Miranda himself. In the movie, Miranda plays the Piragua Guy, who sells shaved ice in Washington Heights. Miranda’s role in the film adaptation may have been small, but in the original musical, he also played Usnavi.
In the Heights star Anthony Ramos also played John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in Hamilton. Meanwhile, actor Christopher Jackson, who played George Washington in Hamilton, took on the role of the Mister Softee guy in In the Heights.