Are you ready for the feel-good film of the summer?

Well, you better be because it’s here courtesy of Jon M. Chu’s adaptation of Quiara Alegría Hudes and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s beloved stage production of the same name.

The Crazy Rich Asians director brings to the screen this tale of a corner in Washington Heights, New York City, and the community surrounding it which strives for a brighter future.

It has proven a roaring success with both critics and general audiences alike, who have celebrated the direction, performances and soaring musical numbers.

However, since its release in cinemas and on HBO Max on Friday June 11th, some have begun to ask a rather pressing question. Does Abuela die in In the Heights?


Warner Bros.

Does Abuela die in In the Heights?

  • Yes, the film remains partially faithful to the stage version and Abuela dies. We see her recalling her childhood in Cuba and the journey which led her to the present day as she passes away from the strain of the sweltering summer heat.

She is found unconscious by Usnavi, who desperately contacts the emergency services to little avail.

Mourning the loss of a pillar of the community, the residents of the neighbourhood congregate to celebrate Abuela’s life and sing. A mural in her honour is unveiled towards the end of the film.

While the character dies in both the film and play, it’s worth highlighting that the timeline differs.

In the original, we discover that Abuela (played by Olga Merediz) was the one who purchased the winning lottery ticket and this happens ahead of the blackout. In the film, on the other hand, the identity of the winner isn’t actually revealed until the very end in the wake of her passing.

The reveal instead comes when Usnavi finds a box with the ticket inside and the LA Times acknowledges that his reaction wasn’t scripted: “That was Jon [M. Chu] pointing a camera at Anthony and saying, ‘Go.’ That was Anthony, as Usnavi, deeply reckoning with this woman’s legacy. It’s so beautiful.”

In The Heights – Washington Heights Trailer

In The Heights – Washington Heights Trailer

Olga Merediz may be familiar…

Not only has the 65-year-old American actress portrayed Abuela in the stage version off and on Broadway in 2007 and 2008 respectively, she has also starred in a wealth of TV shows and movies.

Small screen roles include Law & Order: / SVU (Judge Roberta Martinez), Orange Is the New Black (Lourdes), Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Julia Diaz), Bounty Hunters (Maria), Shades of Blue (Lorena Zepeda), and more.

As for movies, she has also showcased her talents in Godmothered (Beth), The Place Beyond the Pines (Malena), Mr Popper’s Penguins (Nanny), and Remember Me (Aidan’s Professor).

Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images

Lifting the musical to new heights

Many are celebrating the film’s release by singing their praise over on Twitter, declaring it an essential watch.

Check out a selection of tweets:

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