Friday, September 23, 2016

Review of Porchlight Music Theatre's In the Heights

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called In the Heights. The music and lyrics were by Lin-Manuel Miranda and the book was by Quiara Alegría Hudes, and it was conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda. It was directed and co-choreographed by Brenda Didier and it was co-choreographed by Christopher Carter and the music direction was by Diana Lawrence. It was about a young man named Usnavi (Jack DeCesare) who was living in a mostly Latinx neighborhood called Washington Heights. And he ran a bodega and had a huge crush on a hairdresser named Vanessa (Michelle Lauto). Nina (Lucia Godinez), a young woman who grew up in the neighborhood, has just come back from college and her friend Benny (Stephen Allen) is trying to get her attention. It is the day before 4th of July and there is going to be a big celebration. And somebody in the neighborhood has won the lottery--basically everyone gets a lottery ticket every day--but nobody knows who's won at first. It is about wanting better opportunities, gentrification, and community. I really enjoyed this show. I think it is a really great musical because it really brings you into the world of the characters. I liked that there aren't any specific villains; there are just people who make mistakes, which seems more like reality.

"96,000" was one of my favorite songs. I thought that the entire song was really fun to watch. There was lots of cool dance and I love Lin-Manuel Miranda's writing. I especially liked the rapping section in this song. It was very very clever. One of my favorite lines was "Oh no, here goes Mr. Braggadocio / Next thing you know, you’re lying like Pinocchio." He uses a word you would probably never use like braggadocio and rhymes it with the name of a children's book and Disney movie. He rhymes something uncommon with something very common. Everyone has very different ideas of what they would do with the money. Vanessa wants to get out of there and so does Usnavi, except he doesn't want really to leave. He just feels like he does. I thought that Carla (Leah Davis) just wanting a new weave for $96,000 was kind of hilarious because it was clear that nothing like that would be that expensive. And Abuela Claudia (Isabel Quintero) wants to return to her home. And Benny wants to go to business school with the money and then he thinks Donald Trump will be his caddy because he'll be so rich.

I loved the dancing in this show! I especially loved it in "The Club." They had a bunch of people carrying around different ladies. And they danced with such flair and passion; it was so much fun to watch. "Carnaval del Barrio" was probably the biggest dance number, with flags, hip hop, and the singing Piragüero (Stan DeCwikiel Jr.). I thought that it was super fun and it showed the community and the love that the people in the neighborhood had for each other, even though they were going through some pretty tough times.

Easily the funniest song was "No Me Diga." It was Vanessa, Nina, Daniela (Missy Aguilar), and Carla and they were all catching up because Nina had been away at college. Daniela tells Vanessa that Usnavi is with Yolanda, and then Vanessa says "He'd never go out with someone like that. Please tell me you're joking." And Daniela says "I am. I just wanted to see what you'd say!" That reminded me of a few of my friends who just say things to see how I'll react. And Carla is hilarious in this scene because she doesn't understand any of the thousands of innuendos that the other women make.

People who would like this show are people who like gossiping hairdressers, lottery tickets, and piragua. I think people should go see this show. It was so much fun to watch. It always kept me super involved and excited to see what would happen next.

Photos: Gretchen Kelley

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