Friday, May 24, 2013
Theater review: In the Heights is a lovely musical that dives deep into Latino culture
See what makes the culture unique and at the same time relatable beyond race.
FORT WORTH If for no other reason, it’s worth the trip to Artes de la Rosa in Ft. Worth to share in the sheer joy and exuberance the cast (and crew) brings to In the Heights. The warmth, humanity, electricity and precision. The live, vibrant, raucous orchestra is a blessing. The choreography (thank you, Elise Lavallee) is spectacular, exhilarating and brimming with gusto. Rarely have I seen such a varied gathering of devoted, gifted, energetic artists collaborate so seamlessly and effusively. They care so much, with such unabashed elation, you can’t help feeling giddy. And overcome. It’s no surprise that director Adam Adolfo encourages his performers to go out into the aisles, close enough to touch. You feel invited to this celebration. You feel included in this community.
Conceived and composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, with book by Quiara Alegria Hudes, In the Heights shares various stories from Washington Heights (a Latino district of New York City). The connective tissue is our narrator, Usnavi, a good-hearted soul who runs a bodega (convenience stand) with his cousin, Sonny. Carla is Usnavi’s “Abuela” who raised him as her grandson. On this particular day, Nina has returned from Stanford to visit her parents and reconnect with Benny, who works for her dad. Usnavi will discover he has sold a winning lotto ticket, there will be a blackout, and other life-changing events will transpire throughout the show. It’s a quilt, a collage, a mosaic taking us through the sorrowful and sensuous and giddy and enraged, intensely rich and absorbing.
In what my friend described as “the best curtain speech I’ve ever heard” Adam Adolfo welcomed us “home” echoing a core theme of In the Heights and the attitude of Artes de la Rosa, a theater that welcomes us, and cultivates a sense of inclusion. Miranda and Hudes have constructed a contemporary version of say, Fiddler on the Roof or Porgy and Bess, painting the details of a culture steeped in tradition, fierce loyalty and avid pride, with all its graces and foibles. By honoring what makes the Latino community unique, they also demonstrate what makes us all the same. In the Heights is a genuinely astonishing evening of pulse-quickening, soul-brightening theater. Make yourself a gift. Don’t miss it.
Artes de la Rosa presents In the Heights, playing May 17 through June 9, 2013. 1440 North Main Street, Ft. Worth, Texas 76164-9119. 817-624-933. www.artesdelarosa.org
Pegasus News Content partner - Christopher Soden, Dallas GLBT Arts Examiner
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