In the Heights

I can't believe it took me this long to go see In The Heights, but it did.  Well, better late than never! 

Robby and I have made some unfortunate choices as far as what musicals we've seen lately, so I'm happy to report that our evening at In the Heights, not only restored our faith in the American musical, but inspired us to do our own version for 4th graders at Brooklyn Children's Theatre.  Except, instead of taking place in Washington Heights, ours will be in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. 

Why was this such a great night at the theatre?  Here are my reasons (Robby will have to blog about his own):

  • I heard a fresh, authentic and unique "voice" that had something to say.  And that voice was expressed through lively, vibrant, Latin music and witty, infectious spoken-word and lyrics.  Lin-Manuel Miranda, I'm your new biggest fan.
  • I saw a demographic that isn't normally represented in mainstream musicals on the stage of the Richard Rodgers Theatre--the Latino community.  I live in Brooklyn, I've taught in Sunset Park, Spanish Harlem, the Bronx and Washington Heights and I recognized these "characters," and loved that they could be "realized" in this piece.
  • Not only was the choreography off-the-charts good, but it also elevated the story. Rather than rely on just the set (which was gorgeous, by the way), the creative team used dancing bodies to truly bring this Washington Heights neighborhood to life.
  • I felt for the characters.  I saw my students and their parents in the characters on the stage. I empathized with their plight--that endless and confusing search for "home" and "family" when you are displaced and have to start a life in a new country or leave your home for college.  I know that reviews have criticized the "book," but the raw, truthful character journeys overrided any flaws in the writing for me.
  • There was so much heart in this musical.  It was clearly written from the heart, composed from the heart, directed from the heart, choroegraphed from the heart and acted from the heart--and it moved me, excited me, entertained and inspired me.

Finally, last but not least:

  • This is a show that reaches new audiences.  This is a show my drama students in East Harlem at The Young Women's Leadership School (TYWLS) would have LOVED and never have forgotten. 

How I wish I could turn the clock back and bring Ashley and Samantha Rodriguez, Jasmine, Lydia, Jamila and all brilliant young women I taught at TYWLS down to the Richard Rodgers Theatre.  These girls were living the life of Nina, the young protagonist in In the Heights.  They were straddling two worlds--the impoverished Bronx and Harlem neighborhoods they were being raised in and the often Ivy League college bound world they were being prepped to enter.  This show would have meant so much to them during such a pivotal time in their lives, as they struggled with that transition.

So check out my favorite In The Heights clips:

2008 Tony Performance

Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony Acceptance Speech

And,yes, I'm being excessive, but I just love him so...