Celebrating its first birthday and a change of cast, Love London Love Culture revisited Lin Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights. 

IN THE HEIGHTS
Sam Mackay as ‘Usnavi’ and company. Credit: Johan Persson.

This fantastically energetic show has certainly not lost any of its fun and upbeat nature since I last came to the King’s Cross Theatre to watch In the Heights.

Lin Manuel Miranda’s contemporary musical set in the vibrant neighbourhood of Washington Heights, where life is a struggle for its residents being priced out of their homes. The story follows the residents as their lives reach a crossroads of change, told through a contemporary score and unique storytelling.

What makes the show work so well is the way in which the music and Drew Mconie’s choreography blend perfectly to create a vibrant Latino atmosphere that absorbs the audience’s attention from beginning to end. Sequences such as ‘The Club’ and ‘Benny’s Dispatch’ are particularly well choreographed and memorable.

Luke Sheppard’s production is sharp and fast, but also reveals a weakness in the plot which is more character driven rather than having a strong message at the heart of it. However, In the Heights certainly has a community spirit about it that brings the characters and the neighbourhood to life.

There are plenty of performances to enjoy and warm to. From Sam Mackay’s sweet and charming Usnavi, whose vocals during the song ‘In the Heights’ perfectly capture the spirit of the show and lets audiences know what to expect. To watch Usnavi attempting to woo Vanessa is charming and it is difficult not to will him to get the girl.

Elsewhere, Arun Blair-Mangat as the insecure Benny, always wondering if her is destined to be an outsider or will he ever make something of himself, has wonderful charisma personality wise and warmth and depth to his vocals that make him instantly likeable. Damian Buhagiar (Sonny) and Johnny Bishop (Graffiti Pete) also provide great support.

But it is Norma Atallah’s Abuela Claudia who really brings the cast together, very much at the centre of the community – as a particularly poignant scene in the second act proves.

Everything about this production is lively and entertaining, with the characters and music keeping the audiences enthralled from beginning to end. It doesn’t lack heart and by the end you can not help but feel involved with the characters lives and a part of the community of Washington Heights.

Edgy and contemporary enough to get younger audiences into the theatre, this show will be sadly missed when it leaves King’s Cross Theatre – so make the most of the party while it is there!

In the Heights is booking at the King’s Cross Theatre until the 8th January 2017. To book tickets visit: Ticketmaster.co.uk,Discount Theatre.com, Last Minute.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, Love Theatre.com, Theatre People.com and UK Tickets.co.uk. 

Rating: ❤❤❤❤

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