COSTA MESA — David Baida's heard it hundreds of times by now: "You were born to play that part."
But it nearly took a miracle for the actor to audition for the role.
After a run at Los Angeles' Pantages Theatre, Baida and the rest of the touring cast of the hugely successful Broadway musical "In the Heights" will debut at the Orange County Performing Arts Center on Aug. 3.
Set in New York's Washington Heights neighborhood, "In the Heights" brings three days in the life of its Dominican and Puerto Rican community to colorful, euphoric existence.
Baida's character is a scene-stealing, willfully optimistic piragüero (Puerto Rican shaved ice vendor) who, together with his push cart, constantly thwarts the ingresses of the rival Mr. Softee truck. For Baida, stepping onto the eerily realistic show set is like walking out his own front door.
"I myself live in Washington Heights," Baida said. "I lived there for a couple of years before I got this part. I see piraguas all the time and eat them, too. The Piragua Guy sort of represents the everyday man who's got his job and is struggling to make a living, and you see his sort of journey over those three days. Finally, he gets to have his moment in the sun."