Movies
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Piragua Guy in 'In the Heights.'

In The Heights Is Full Of Hamilton Easter Eggs And Other Sly References

Yes, that was a Hamilton song you heard.

Macall Polay

Thirteen years and four Tony Awards later, an In the Heights movie has officially hit theaters. Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first big Broadway show tells the story of a predominantly Latinx community in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, and the musical’s big heart and show-stopping musical numbers make it a must-see. To make your viewing experience even better, let’s break down some of the Hamilton easter eggs and sly references in In the Heights.

Based on Miranda’s 2008 Broadway hit, the movie follows Usnavi (played here by Anthony Ramos), who immigrated from the Dominican Republic as a child and is torn between living in Washington Heights and heading back to his birth country to repair his father’s business. All around him, his lifelong friends and neighbors are also dealing with big changes wrought by rapid gentrification, xenophobic immigration policies, and navigating their ties to both America and their home countries. But through an explosion of music and heartfelt storytelling, In the Heights paints a lively, powerful portrait of Latinx community.

Of course, Miranda is well-known for his smash-hit musical Hamilton, and the movie pays homage to both of Miranda’s shows. From a Drag Race cameo to a “96,000” lyric change, here are all of the biggest In the Heights easter eggs:

01
The Hamilton “hold” music

While Nina’s dad Kevin attempts to get in touch with Stanford University, the hold music is actually a Muzak version of King George III’s big Hamilton song, “You’ll Be Back.” It’s a quick moment, but bound to leave you wanting to listen to the extremely catchy Jonathan Groff tune all over again.

02
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Piragua Guy

As pretty much any casual musical theater fan knows, Miranda created In the Heights and originated the role of Usnavi on Broadway. While it wouldn’t make much sense for him to reprise the role today, he does appear in the film adaptation as Piragua Guy, a man selling the Puerto Rican shaved ice dessert of the same name.

There are other little Easter eggs associated with Miranda’s character, too: The original In the Heights doodle he drew in high school is carved into the piragua cart, and Miranda’s character is reading a book his grandfather read to him as a child.

03
Christopher Jackson as Mr. Softee
James Devaney/Getty Images

While Piragua Guy’s nemesis Mr. Softee never actually shows up in the original musical, the movie changed that with another big cameo. He’s played by Christopher Jackson, who originated the role of In the Heights character Benny on Broadway, as well as the role of George Washington in Hamilton.

04
The lottery ticket numbers

In the film, a mysterious winning lottery ticket sold at Usnavi’s bodega has the potential to change lives. The winning numbers are 5-7-16-26-33, and each of holds significant meaning for director John Chu. He told Vulture that five is the month of his wife’s birth, 7-16 is his daughter’s birthday, 7-26 is his wedding anniversary and his son’s new date, and 33 is his favorite number.

05
Marc Anthony as Sonny’s dad

Grammy-winning Latin music superstar Marc Anthony appears in In the Heights as Sonny’s father. Anthony also lends his voice to the brand-new song “Home All Summer,” which was created exclusively for the film. It’s totally getting a Best Original Song Oscar nomination, right?!

06
Real-life Washington Heights landmarks
Warner Bros

Authenticity is key in a movie like In the Heights, which meant as much of it was filmed in the real Washington Heights neighborhood as possible. Notable locations include Highbridge Pool, where “96,000” takes place, and J. Hood Wright Park, where Benny and Nina perform their romantic duet “When You’re Home.” Meanwhile, 175th Street & Audobon Avenue served as the location of Usnavi’s corner bodega.

07
Drag Race alum Valentina

During the “No Me Diga” scene, Drag Race devotees will undoubtedly recognize former contestant Valentina (aka James Leyva) sitting in Daniela’s salon. The drag queen, who appeared in both Drag Race Season 9 and All Stars 4, plays themselves in the movie. Although they’ve never appeared in a Miranda musical up until this point, the drag queen does have theater experience: They previously played Angel in Rent: Live.

08
Daphne Rubin-Vega as Daniela

Rubin-Vega plays local salon owner Daniela, but she also has important connections to Broadway and Miranda himself. The actress voiced a DJ who could be heard at the beginning of In the Heights on Broadway. She also originated the iconic role of Mimi in Richard Larson’s musical Rent, a show that inadvertently inspired Miranda to make Hamilton.

09
The “96,000” lyric change
Warner Bros

In the original version of “96,000,” Benny imagines a future where he’s won the lottery and is so rich that Donald Trump is his golf caddy. But in the In the Heights film, he mentions Tiger Woods instead. “When I wrote [‘96,000’], [Trump] was an avatar for the Monopoly man. He was just, like, a famous rich person,” Miranda told Variety. “Then when time moves on and he becomes the stain on American democracy, you change the lyric. Time made a fool of that lyric, and so we changed it.”

10
That familiar voice on the radio

Miranda and Jackson weren’t the only original In the Heights cast members who covertly appeared in the film. Mandy Gonzalez, who originated the role of Nina on Broadway, sings a doo-wop version of one of the movie’s songs in the dry cleaners where Abuela Claudia goes to get her napkins fixed.