Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Broadway Review: In the Heights

The creator, writer, lyricist and original star character, Usnavi, are all the same person -- Lin-Manuel Miranda. He started writing the musical as a college student. He was inspired to basically tell his own story about growing up in Washington Heights in New York. It translated onto the stage beautifully.

My husband is bilingual and lived in Latin American for two years, and I've learned quite a bit of Spanish over the last few years. We also have many Latin friends and we associate with them often. Their culture is vibrant, musical, and loving. Thus, In the Heights was something we really wanted to see.

It didn't disappoint. The current touring company's star had a unique speaking and singing voice -- I looked forward to everything his character portrayed. Other break out roles were the cousin, and also the two gossiping Latina hairdressers. Comic relief at its finest.

The overall theme was finding where you truly belong. As first generation citizens, these sons and daughters of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and others struggled to find themselves. Did they belong back in their parents' home country? Or did they belong in the U.S.? Was Washington Heights where they would be forever, or would they seek opportunity somewhere else?

A few times I couldn't hear the words over the music, so a little of the story was lost to my ears. There were also a few numbers or characters that weren't quite as exciting or compelling as the others. But overall, it was a fun show.

My husband wondered if perhaps the regular older crowd that frequents musicals that come to town would stomach the "rap" music in the show. After all, the opening number was the main character rapping about Washington Heights. But really, it wasn't typically "rap" ... it was softer, with the reggaeton beats of Latin America. It was storytelling word-singing. It was fun. It was hip. It was different.

Combined with intricate Latin dancing, the music and dance was the true star of the show. The dance switched between casual hip hop to slower interpretive. It showcased the musical beats and showed characters' emotions. I loved it.

We all struggle to fit in. But I think for the Latin community, their own story of struggling to find their place was largely untold. Until now.

No comments:

Post a Comment