“If Not Us, Who?”

~ Maritza Motta-Gonzalez 

What a thrill and honor – being in this production! We are in the final rehearsals for In The Heights with R-S Theatrics! We open to previews on August 17. That’s a week from today!

Words can’t express what a wonderful experience this has been.

First of all this cast is WICKED TALENTED!

Every. Single. Person.  I get chills listening to them sing and watching them perform… and this is only in rehearsal!

Secondly, and this may be the most important part, the director and majority of the cast are Latinx or people of color! The diversity is wonderful. And, I can’t express how extremely proud I am to be included in this production, with this company, with this Latina director, with this diverse cast.

Ok, so a quick synopsis of the story: In The Heights, written by Lin Manuel-Miranda (you know… the guy that wrote Hamilton), explores three days in the characters’ lives in a New York City Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights. Their dreams, goals, disappointments, love, loss, lives – all scored to salsa, merengue and hip-hop music – is on stage for everyone to see. It explores what we consider and call “home.” Where is home? How do you know you are home?

It’s beautiful, it’s torment, it’s painful, it’s lovely, it’s life.

What’s cool is my daughter played the lead role in the youth theatre group, GCPA’s, production of In The Heights. She was one of a couple of Latinx kids on stage. When auditions were announced for R-S Theatric’s production, my daughter said, “Mom, you HAVE TO audition!” She didn’t really give me a choice in the matter.

She continued, “how many Latinos do you think are going to audition? You have to be in that mix.”

She had a point. (Sometimes it irks me that my 16 year-old is smarter than I am!)

I believe that the cast members feel the same way. Especially our brown and black cast members. Especially in our times. It’s important to show our diversity. Important to show our culture. Share our music. Share our talents. Share our lives.

It’s important for me to show my daughter how proud I am of having a heritage I can share. Proud of our dark skin. Dark hair. Of being who we are – Mexican-American.

When speaking about the cast and the audition process, our “Camila,” Maritza Motto-Gonzalez said, “if not us, who?”  I have been away from theatre for a while now (over 20 years to be precise), so I didn’t know how diverse the theatre community really was in St. Louis. Come to find out – it’s not very. Martiza’s words, my daughter’s words were both said with determination and truth.

I was fortunate to have been interviewed by Nancy Fowler for St. Louis Public Radio regarding the show and was asked how our diversity was shown on stage. Did it mesh with what we saw in St. Louis? You’ll have to come see the show (I really do hope I see a lot of my friends in the audience) but I believe you can see a microcosm of diversity as you do, say on Cherokee Street. In St. Ann. In Maryland Heights. In all those places where brown, black and white faces live in harmony. It’s not perfect harmony sometimes, but we strive to be harmonious.

It certainly is on stage… harmonious, I mean. The sounds coming out of these people is astounding! The family that is being created on and off the stage. The feeling of home we are experiencing each time we enter our rehearsal space and when we gather outside of rehearsals.

The icing on the cake? This is a professional company. I can call myself a professional actress again… and it feels so wonderful.

This entire process feels so wonderful. This cast feels wonderful. This show feels wonderful.

Come feel wonderful with us.


In The Heights runs August 18 – September 3 at the .Zack on Locust in the Grand Center Theatre District. Tickets can be purchased here.

Carmen Garcia writes about stuff… life as a single mother, dating, weight loss, performing, and other random experiences. Sometimes it makes sense. Other times, not so much. You decide.

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