During the final curtain call of “In The Heights,” Jason Loewith, Olney Theatre Center’s Artistic Director, presented the cast with a symbolic check for $96,000 to represent the money raised by the ensemble from audiences during the run of the show for hurricane relief. In fact, the cast surpassed their goal, inspired by a number from the Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes-penned musical in which members of the Washington Heights neighborhood speculate on what they would do with a lottery jackpot of $96,000.
Ultimately, the cast raised $105,231.22 to be distributed to the Hispanic Federation, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross. This total does not include the pledged matching gifts from members of the boards of directors of Round House Theatre and Olney Theatre Center. After two extensions and a practically sold-out run, “In the Heights” closed following the matinee on Sunday, Oct. 22.
“The cast was very passionate about this project, both the art on stage and the impact they could have as artists on the world beyond the stage,” said Loewith. “It began with their initiative early in the run, as disaster after disaster struck in Houston, Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean, particularly in Puerto Rico where several of the cast members have family.”
Round House’s Artistic Director Ryan Rilette added, “We couldn’t be prouder of this artist-driven effort to raise awareness for the victims of these natural disasters. It’s a testament to their passion, energy, and enthusiasm, and truly shows what can happen when great art inspires on- and off-stage.”
Ensemble members took turns making an appeal to the audience following the curtain call of each performance, while other cast members took turns collecting cash from departing audience members.
Word of the fundraising project spread to Lin-Manuel Miranda himself who tweeted a shout-out to his “Hamilton” fellow cast member Robin de Jesús and the rest of the cast.