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Play Review

Thursday, 3 February, 2011 2:34 AM

'In The Heights' is a knockout hit at Detroit's Fisher Theatre

Photo credit: ©Kevin Thomas Garcia, 2010

Genny Lis Padilla in the national tour of In the Heights. It runs through Feb. 13, 2011 at Detroit's Fisher Theatre.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

DETROIT -- As heavy snow was falling outdoors, playgoers filled the Fisher Theatre for opening night of "In the Heights." The theatre was a little more than half full, due to the inclement weather conditions. Jose-Luis Lopez stars as Graffiti Pete, Joseph Morales stars as Usnavi, David Baida stars as Piragua Guy and Elise Santora plays Abuela Claudia. Carla is played by Ana Nogueira and April Ortiz stars as Daniela. In the Heights tells the story of a vibrant community in New York's Washington Heights that goes through many changes.

Washington Heights is an area of New York City that begins at 200th Street and runs south to 155th Street. This area is known for being home to a large immigrant population. The Armenians were the first to settle here. Then, the Irish, Greeks, Germans and Jews began arriving. Latinos started to move into Washington Heights in the 1950s. Dominicans settled here in the mid-1960s. It remains a predominantly Latino area. Some famous residents include Alan Greenspan, Henry Kissinger, Duke Ellington, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Freddie Prinze and Laurence Fishburne, among others.

"It's always been an immigrant's first step," said Lin-Manuel Miranda, the composer and lyricist of In the Heights, who also conceived the show. "That's one of the things I love about the neighborhood. And it has such a different energy from everywhere else in the city, because it's got this terrain that was never conquered."

The musical's set features the Brooklyn Bridge in the background with many storefronts in the foreground. There is a limousine shop on the far left, a deli and grocery store in the middle and a hair salon on the far right. There are no set changes throughout the musical -- it all remains the same.

There are two acts with one 15-minute intermission in the middle. Each act features 12 songs for a total of 24 songs in all. It began a few minutes after 8 p.m. and ran until shortly after 10:30 p.m.

The opening act begins with a teenage boy walking on stage with a can of spray paint. He acts like he is going to paint one of the storefronts. Then, another guy appears and says, "No That's My Wall." Minutes later, an older gentleman walks across the stage pushing a beer cart. The limousine and hair salons open for business. A girl arrives to her hometown from Stanford University. The entire musical revolves around Nina Rosario, played by Genny Lis Padilla. She ends up losing her scholarship and then her parents have to find a way to keep her in school. You will have to see the musical yourself to find out if she makes it back to California or not!

In the Heights features a lot of ballroom dancing and rap songs. Some are performed in English, while others are entirely in Spanish. As someone who took two years of Spanish in college, there were some words that I did not understand. Here are some tips: Abuela means grandma, ¿Cómo estás? means how are you? and ¿Qué pasa? means what's up or what's happening.

"This new style of musical is one that will change musical theater forever," said actress Natalie Toro, who plays Camila. "It's a musical for all generations. It's all styles of music, like hip hop and Salsa and regular pop musical theater. But don't let that scare you. It's a very universal story about love and hope and dreams. It's about a neighborhood in Washington Heights in Manhattan where everybody knows your name and your history."

In the Heights first opened on Broadway on March 9, 2008. It opened on Feb. 1 at Detroit's Fisher Theatre and runs through Feb. 13, 2011. It is directed by Thomas Kail and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler. Alex Lacamoire is handling the music supervision duties. The book was written by Quiara Alegría Hudes. It won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Choreography, among many other awards.

I think this musical is a knockout hit. The sound and lighting were set perfectly. Althought I could not understand some parts of it, I was able to figure out what the actors meant based on watching their moves. My favorite song was "The Club/Fireworks" because the lights were flashing just like actual fireworks and that song was enjoyable to listen to. It is the last song before the intermission. Go see it!

Ticket prices for the Detroit engagement of IN THE HEIGHTS range from $34-$84 (includes parking and facility fees) and are on sale now at the Fisher Theatre box office and all Ticketmaster locations. Tickets are also available for purchase online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.BroadwayinDetroit.com, and by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-982-2787. Limited premium seats are available at the box office only. For group sales (12 or more), please call (313) 871-1132 or email groups@broadwayindetroit.com.

Related Story: 'In The Heights' to feature actress Natalie Toro at Detroit's Fisher Theatre

 

Photo credit: ©Kevin Thomas Garcia, 2010

In the Heights national tour cast

 

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