Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST), Benito Juárez Community Academy and Latinos Progresando announced today a joint partnership to present a concert version of In the Heights at Juárez Performing Arts Center in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood on Monday, April 8 at 7 p.m. With the support of The Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Shakespeare is advancing its relationship with Pilsen and working to realize Benito Juárez Performing Arts Center's potential as a performing arts facility and community center for greater Pilsen. As part of this effort, CST is engaging a vibrant network of neighborhood partners, arts organizations, local artists and community members with an interest in theatrical performance to collaborate on the Latin-inspired musical In the Heights.
Infused with salsa, rap and hip hop, the Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights follows the joys and heartbreaks of a tightly knit Latino community in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. In the Heights features music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, and was conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The partnership between Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Benito Juárez Community Academy and Latinos Progresando is focused on community: the concert's energetic score will be orchestrated by musicians from the Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater's Musical Ensemble and performed by members of the Pilsen and Little Village communities with diverse artistic backgrounds and experiences. Local artwork by muralist Pablo Serrano will also be featured in the show's publicity. Students from the Benito Juárez Visual and Performance Arts Academy and Teatro Americano-a Latinos Progresando program that empowers youth to perform stories that express their communities' worries, ambitions and successes-will assist in the production process. CST is contributing its expertise in producing, marketing and promoting theater.
The concert reading will be directed by Cecilie Keenan. Keenan has been active in the Chicago theater community for more than 20 years as a freelance director and producer, and is currently the Director of Arts Programming and Outreach at Latinos Progresando. Formerly, she was the producing director of Teatro Vista, where her directing credits included The Messenger (part of Goodman Theatre's Latino Theatre Festival), Dreamlandia, Another Part of the House and Living Out. Keenan also directed the Jeff Award-winning Tobacco Road at American Blues Theater and Joel Drake Johnson's The End of the Tour at 16th Street Theater in Berwyn. Additionally, she collaborated on El Nogalar, a co-production with Goodman Theatre and Teatro Vista. Keenan has been a frequent director and sometimes artistic and/or managing director at many Chicago theaters, including American Blues Theater, Apple Tree Theatre, American Theater Company, Bailiwick Chicago, Northlight Theatre and Collaboraction, where she directed the highly acclaimed The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow.
As part of Chicago Shakespeare Theater's relationship with the Pilsen community, CST is working to realize Benito Juárez Performing Arts Center's potential as a performing arts facility and community center for greater Pilsen. Last spring, CST presented a special performance of Short Shakespeare! The Taming of the Shrew at Benito Juárez Performing Arts Center, featuring Pilsen leaders Juan Carlos Ocón, Juan Soto and Álvaro R. Obregón alongside Benito Juárez Community Academy students. CST returned to Pilsen last summer as part of Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, presenting a performance, free for all, in Dvorak Park. Additionally, CST's education residency at Benito Juárez Community Academy provides individualized curriculum-based support to the high school. Working closely with Principal Ocón, members of CST's artistic and education staff are infusing theater arts into the school's curriculum through in-class and after-school student work, theatrical performances at both CST and Juárez Performing Arts Center, and professional development for teachers. Together CST and Benito Juárez Community Academy hope to demonstrate how great art crosses all barriers, illuminating our shared humanity.