Tuesday, March 25, 2008

In The Heights

Photo/Joan Marcus

Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical about a cheery community in Washington Heights has been scrubbed clean of any hard-hitting drama, but it's still a fresh, fun new show in its own right. In The Heights is best when it's playing to the larger-than-life atmosphere, rather than when it focuses on the rather simple problems of its individual residents. Additionally, few performers beyond Miranda (Robin De Jesus as the comic relief, Sonny; Andrea Burns as the sassy salon girl, Carla; and Karen Olivo as the strong-backed but loose-limbed Vanessa) have the necessary charisma or vocal presence to carry solos or duets. Just as there's no charisma between Benny and Nina (Christopher Jackson and Mandy Gonzalez), there's no conviction behind songs like "Inutil" or "Enough," and that hurts Carlos Gomez, Priscilla Lopez, and the whole show. Thankfully, In The Heights focuses most often on the whole neighborhood, a confection that's completed by Andy Blankenbuehler's merengue-flavored choreography, Howell Binkley's fireworks in the light department, Thomas Kail's constantly moving, urban-flowing direction, and Miranda's fusion of familiar Broadway tropes with the shaken-up spasms of rap or the multicultural beats and grooves of a whole new rhythm.

[Read on] [Also blogged by: Patrick]

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