Love London Love Culture finally got around to seeing the show that everybody is talking about – and what an energetic and creative show it is.
From the opening title number all the way through to the joyful finale, In the Heights is energetic and heartwarming that shows how a contemporary musical should be done.
Set in the vibrant Latino neighbourhood of Washington Heights in New York, the story tells the individual stories of some of the residents living in the area and how they are all connected.
Despite the fact the plot is perhaps fairly basic, there is still a flavour of West Side Story about it from the dancing in the streets and latin characteristics – but still has an individuality all of its own in the style of music that keeps the audiences hooked.
In the Heights is clever in the way in which it develops the characters through the style in which they sing, for example Usnavi (Sam Mackay) is very uptempo and strong beat with lyrics that are straight to the point – revealing a character who is strong and loyal. Or in contrast to this Nina’s (Lily Frazer) songs were all emotional and about a person trying to find herself – reflecting her struggles to keep up to her parents high standards.
The cast themselves constantly have plenty to do and consistently perform to such a high standard. Lily Frazer provides beautiful vocals and a strong characterisation as Nina, Cleve September as Sonny is endearing and charming throughout as is Sam Mackay as Usnavi and Josie Benson as the feisty and determined Camila all provide standout performances.
Musically, there is such a wide variety of styles, yet there is a constant undertone of latin influences provided by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s music and lyrics that is vibrant and refreshing such as during ‘Carnaval Del Barrio’ and ‘No Me Diga’.
Drew McOnie’s choreography is fast, energetic and a delight to watch and really reflects the songs perfectly. Gabriella Slade has created costumes that reflect the urban setting as much as the individual characters – bold colourful and vibrant as the show itself. Meanwhile, Howard Hudson has created lighting that is extremely creative – as seen in during ‘Blackout’ .
The show felt just slightly overly long considering what needed to be resolved and although the songs added to our understanding of the characters, it felt as though we didn’t learn as much about them as we could have.
Yet this is such a creative and vibrant show that certainly (judging by last night’s audience) was attracting a younger crowd to the theatre and that in itself is an achievement, thanks to Luke Sheppard’s stunning production. Well worth a visit.
In the Heights is booking at King’s Cross Theatre until the 30th October 2016. To book tickets visit: ATG Tickets, Ticketmaster.co.uk, Discount Theatre.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, Love Theatre.com, Theatre People.com and UK Tickets.co.uk.