MIAMI (CBSMiami) – “In the Heights” is ready for a curtain call at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami.

The musical comes to the stage via one of the youngest people to produce and star in a show of this magnitude.

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Cuban-American actor Benjamin Leon, 23, assembled an all-local cast through his Loxen Productions and teamed with Loud and Live to produce this version of the award-winning musical that was first written and starred Lin Manuel Miranda.

Leon takes over Miranda’s lead role as Usnavi the bodega owner.

“It’s super exciting. It’s a dream come true. I love the show, I saw the show for many many years, and to be able to put it on here at the Adrienne Arsht Center with our whole Hispanic community and everything. It seems like a perfect storm. It’s such an honor and a privilege,” said Leon.

Benji, a recent graduate of FIU, produced the first Loxen Production of ‘In the Heights’ in 2019 at the school. The next show was planned for 2020.

“We came over to do the show in 2020 but obviously the pandemic happened and everything was shut down. So, we move the show to 2021,” he said.

Based on the Tony Award-winning musical “In the Heights” tells the universal story of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood.

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“This show is very much more musical theater than the film is. For the most part, it’s the same story, but there are enough differences here to keep things interesting enough to come to see the show even if you have seen the movie,” he explained.

Still, Leon is well aware he has big shoes to fill.

“Yeah, probably a little bit because the movie and the show are similar. There’s some differences here and there and a lot of people who have seen the movie and are going to come now with certain expectations. I think that will do a good job at hopefully meeting all of those,” Leon said.

Benji says he and this high-energy cast couldn’t be more excited to put this musical on stage in their hometown inside the magical performing arts theater.

“It’s huge. It’s nerve-racking, but at the same time, it’s super-super exciting and the whole cast is beyond pumped. The whole cast is all Miami talent so we all grew up knowing about the Adrienne Arsht Center, loving not and coming to see shows here. So, for them and me, to be able to finally put on the show here is super exciting for everyone,” he said.

“In the Heights” is on stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center Friday through Sunday with 2 shows Saturday and Sunday.

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For more info www.arshtcenter.org

Lisa Petrillo