School musical helps hurricane relief

Dec 06, 2017
Members of the “In the Heights” cast and crew are pictured on closing night, Nov. 11.

Rockport — On Nov. 17, a check for $1,500 was mailed to the New York City–based Hispanic Federation, designating the funds for Unidos Disaster Relief & Recovery. The money was raised during the run of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” at Camden Hills Regional High School.

Earlier in the fall, while the production was rehearsing musical numbers and scenes from the show, portraying characters from the immigrant community of Washington Heights, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. While cast members were singing “Blackout,” the number that ends the first act, they were reading headlines about the island’s devastating blackout; as they were singing the lyric “we are powerless,” they were reading headlines of Puerto Ricans feeling powerless — not only in reality, but also within their rights as American citizens, said director Kim Murphy.

“And as we sang Miranda’s music, we again read how music can be used as a powerful tool — through the production of Lin-Manuel’s new song titled “Almost Like Praying” — with many Latino musicians coming together to perform and raise funds for Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief,” she wrote in the letter that accompanied the check.

So the cast, crew and production team decided it was fitting and timely to “do our part.” Taking a cue from the musical, in which a central character wins money through a lottery, the show had a 50/50 raffle during intermission. The theme of being powerless took on an additional meaning as much of Maine lost power in a windstorm just three days before the show was scheduled to open.

“Luckily, the school got power back quickly and we were able to open ‘In the Heights’ on time,” Murphy said.

But the outages helped bring the intermission appeal home for the audience. Murphy credited Camden Hills alum Alex Jurek and cast parents for selling the raffle tickets each show. The winner was Karen Salenius.

“We have the privilege to perform Lin-Manuel Miranda’s characters on stage tonight. Let’s join with him in helping to raise money for hurricane relief, and show the world that we are not powerless,” Murphy said each performance.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or

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