AISLE SAY Philadelphia


Music & Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Book by Quiara Alegría Hudes
Conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler
Directed by Thomas Kail
Academy of Music, 1420 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102-4223

Reviewed by Claudia Perry

Bowing last night at the Academy of Musicpresented by Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts was the 2008 Tony Award winning musical, “In the Heights”. With award winning Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also conceived the show and originally starred in it on Broadway, it is a celebration about family, home and finding one’s self.

Set in a Washington Heights barrio, it is a musical mélange of hip hop, Latin rhythms and musical theater. The nine piece orchestra is smoking due not only to the expert musicians, but as much to the thrilling orchestrations by Alan Lacamoire and Bill Sherman. And the exciting choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and superb direction by Thomas Kail keep this little musical chugging along.

Though a few plot points are at loose ends – it is all forgiven because of this show’s heart and soul and contagious Latin groove. The plot revolves around several stories that take place in our Narrator and Leading Man, Usnavi’s, inner city neighborhood. Usnavi runs the corner bodega and much like Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”, he introduces us to the characters that inhabit his world and tells us of their hopes and dreams.

First there is Vanessa, a hairdresser, whom Usnavi has eyes for, though she is hell bent on moving out of the neighborhood and down to the Village. Then there is Nina, recently home from Stanford, who is afraid to tell her parents (Camila & Kevin) that she’s dropped out. While back at home she falls in love with Benny, who works for her father’s car service. Benny is ambitious and dreams of opening his own business one day. Abuela Claudia (Grandmother Claudia) the neighborhood matriarch who brought up Usnavi after his parents died, still looks after everyone in her domain. And then there are peripheral characters like gossip hound, Daniela who runs the local salon, Graffiti Pete and the Piragua Guy (who sells fruit flavored frozen treats) who add color, humor and surprise to the show.

The cast is very strong with some electrifying performances by Lexi Lawson as Vanessa, Danny Bolero as Kevin and Genny Lis Padilla as Nina. Also notable are Nicholas Christopher as Benny and Natalie Toro who is terrifically moving when she sings “Siempre” (Always). Though much too young to play the grandmother, Elise Santoro is wonderful as Abuela Claudia.

The set by Anna Louizos is a beautifully realistic cityscape with a partial view of the George Washington bridge looming above it. This wonderful National Tour continues on until April 3, 2011. Check out the calendar below.

Jan. 25 – 30, 2011

Rochester, NY

Auditorium Theatre

Click here or call
(585) 325-7760 x3101.

On sale now!

Feb. 1 - 13, 2011

Detroit, MI

Fisher Theatre

Click here or call
(313) 871-1132.

On sale now!

Feb. 15 – 20, 2011

Charlotte, NC

The Blumenthal

Click here or call
(704) 379-1380.

On sale now!

Feb. 22 – 27, 2011

Durham, NC

Durham PAC

Click here or call
(919) 281-0587.

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Mar. 1 – 6, 2011

Hershey, PA

Hershey Theatre

Click here or call
(717) 534-3412.

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Mar. 22 – 27, 2011

Nashville, TN


Click here or call
(615) 782-4060.

On sale now!

Mar. 29 – Apr. 3, 2011

Miami, FL

Arsht Center

Click here or call
(786) 468-2326.

On sale now

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