the Heights is composer and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda's joyful
answer to Leonard Bernstein's 1957 West Side Story which memorably
celebrated Latino culture on the Broadway stage. Brilliantly
directed by Thomas Kail and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler,
it captures the vibrant canvas of Washington Heights's Latino
community. If you haven't taken in the show as yet, Its sensual
rhythms and musical renditions are the perfect tropical answer to
November's cold weather. Bachata, salsa, hip-hop, and merengue
merge gloriously to the telenovela-like subplots that take place over
a Fourth of July weekend.
The cast is a richly woven tapestry
of characters. Miranda can also act - he delivers a rousing performance as
Usnavi, the young bodega owner and barista who serves coffee every
morning to the neighborhood locals, as does Olga Merediz as his
cherished Abuela Claudia. Priscilla Lopez and Carlos Gomez portray
the hard working gypsy cab entrepreneurs Camila and Kevin Rosario
and Christopher Jackson is their dutiful star employee Benny who
falls in love with their daughter Nina (Mandy Gonzalez), a
freshman at Stanford. Andréa Burns is perfectly on point as
Daniela, the fiery gossip and local hair salon owner who sets the
entire neighborhood atwitter with salacious innuendo.
As the play
unfolds, the protagonists face thorny dilemmas. Will Priscilla and
Carlos be able to pay Nina's rising tuition or will she have to
quit college? Will Nina and Benny overcome parental objections and
live happily ever after? And most importantly, who holds the
wining ticket to a large lottery jackpot? Slowly, the reality of
gentrification begins to set in, but no one seems too concerned.
Usvani will stay in the 'hood and continue to serve his customers
their morning caffeine fix. Daniela, always ahead of the game,
has already put a deposit down on a place in the Bronx. As for
Nina and Benny, Cupid wins in the end.
In The Heights succeeds in
large part because of the sheer enthusiasm of the cast and
production team. Miranda, who is just 28, originally wrote In the
Heights while at Wesleyan, and it has lost none of its youthful
effervescence. When the show is over, there is the irresistible
urge to call one's broker and move uptown!
Nominated for thirteen
Tony Awards in 2008, In the Heights won in four categories
including Best Musical.
the Heights, Richard Rogers Theatre
the Heights, the soundtrack