Sunday, 3 June 2018

In The Heights at the Hayes Theatre

An excellent production
magnificent cast.
Review: In the Heights at Hayes Theatre
Image of cast of In the Heights via The Hayes Theatre.
This production of In the Heights has been brought to the Hayes Theatre through the production house of Blue Saint: Josh Robson and Damien Birmingham who previously presented Violet.
The Hayes Theatre has been transposed to the Hispanic-dominated area of Washington Heights in Manhattan around the 4th of July celebrations in the hottest days of summer – setting the theatre alight. Under Will Centurion’s assured direction the terrific cast is full of explosive energy and glow.
The musical was first premiered in 2005, it had a run on Broadway in 2008, and has been nominated for 13 Tony Awards, winning four including Best Musical. The show is mostly about how a sense of community can flourish within the arrogant hostility of a heavily burdened city and also confronts issues such as racism, poverty and struggling to find yourself.
Amy Campbell’s choreography sizzles and includes Broadway musical numbers, breakdancing, and a boy band routine. There are lots of exuberant hot and slinky salsa, rhumba and tango – especially in the major dance section of The Club/The Blackout scene in Act One.  
The music and lyrics are most important, with plenty of social commentary. In the Heights blends hip hop, rap and salsa as well as Bernstein (yes lots of West Side Story allusions). Lucy Birmingham the musical director enthusiastically leading the excellent band (mostly hidden at the back of the set apart from one segment of the show). The band explosively propels the show’s difficult and challenging score with finesse. We also see how rap can almost become like a recitative in an opera or the tongue twisting ‘patter’ arias in Gilbert and Sullivan.
The scaffolded and slanted set design by Simon Greer includes graffiti and designated areas for Kevin Rosario’s business and Daniela’s beauty parlour either side of the stage, as well as Usnavi’s shop as well as garbage bins, milk crates and the like.
We meet the neighbourhood characters in a large cast of 15. Our host or narrator is Usnavi, who owns the corner shop that is the area’s hub, this role is brilliantly performed by charismatic Ryan Gonzalez.  Sonny, Usnavi’s wisecracking young cousin and employee was delightfully portrayed by Marty Alix.
Abuela Claudia, the matriarch of the area who knows everyone and looks after them, was superbly played and sung by Margi De Ferrnati who stops the show with her ‘Paciencia y Fe – Patience and Faith’ which had the audience screaming for more.
Our star crossed romantic leads Benny and Nina are terrifically played by Tim (Timomatic) Omaji and Luisa Scrofani with believable chemistry together. Scrofani is a dynamic powerhouse as Nina, with a huge voice. Omaji is also terrific, capturing the change from self-centred smooth arrogance to concerned lover and his flares of aggression are understandable and in character.
Nina’s parents Kevin and Camilla the limo service owners are magnificently played by Alexander Palacio and Ana Maria Belo.  Palacio captures the warm, noble yet troubled father and businessman, caught in turbulent times delightfully. Belo is sensational as resilient, fiery Camilla her big song, 'Enough' is a biting, spitfire bravura showcase.  
I must not forget Monqiue Montez as she glows as Daniela, oblivious to Usnavi’s liking for her – Vanessa (brilliantly portrayed by Olivia Vasquez) and sultry Carla (Libby Asciak).
A compelling dynamic production that dazzles.
Rating: ★★★★

In The Heights 

At the Hayes Theatre 16 March – 16 April 2018

Blue Saints Productions, in association with Hayes Theatre Co presents
Music and Lyrics, by Lin-Manuel Miranda,
Book by, Quiara Alegria Hudes, at the Hayes Theatre, Greenknowe Ave.  Potts Point.  

No comments:

Post a Comment