The Lexus Broadway Series Continues an amazing 2011 Season with the opening this week of the 2010 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical In The Heights. We are brought into the lives of the residents of a few blocks of the Dominican NYC Neighborhood of Washington Heights over a three day period that includes the 4th of July.
The first thing to strike me about the play is its innovation. While there is certainly a traditional Broadway musical here, what makes this show a standout is its nontraditional use of rap melded flawlessly together with enthralling Broadway melodies to tell the story in a way that will immediately pull you in and keep you engaged from start to finish.
It is very easy to see how this show was nominated for thirteen 2010 Tony Awards. The musical arrangements are nothing short of brilliance and the choreography is another place that traditional Broadway is infused with more contemporary dance to add another demension to the experience. In The Heights is definitely an experience. This is the only time since Wicked that I have sat in a show and felt like I was in New York seeing a Broadway show.
Christina Aranda & Robert Ramirez Photo by John Daughtry
The cast is steller as well, I was reminded of the cast of Dallas Theater Centers recent production of Giant, which was stacked with Broadway heavyweights, this cast too was full of heavyweights. A few cast members standout. The night of review the lead role of Usnavi was played by the understudy Robert Ramirez, I cannot imagine it could be played better. Presilah Nunez as Vanessa is a Powerhouse, Virginia Cavaliere is Perfection as Nina and Tauren Hagans as Daniella is definitely the most fun character to watch. The other standout is Christina Aranda as Abuela Claudia. She is responsible for the highpoint of the show when she belts out “Paciencia y Fe” (Patience and Faith”).
Powerhouse Presilah Nunez Photo by John Daughtry
One of the things that I am always most jealous of the Hispanic Community for is the closeness and importance of family. Greater still is how this culture views their neighbors as an extension of that family. Proximity makes you family.
In The Heights they do not have money, many here are struggling to keep their small businesses afloat, but I think, as is often true, they have something so much greater. The story starts with several characters looking to get out of Washington Heights, to move on to something bigger or better, but the moral of the story is that this is not just a neighborhood, these are not just your neighbors, this is and always will be home. This is a world I would like to live in.
Cast of In The Heights Photo by John Daughtry
In The Heights plays the Winspear Opera House through March 26. Tickets are $30-$150 and are available at http://www.attpac.org/ This show is your chance for a night in New York without getting on a plane.
Go on a Tuesday and grab a bite before at The Screen Door in One Arts Plaza. Happy Hour at all the restaurants continues all night on $5. Tuesday's with cocktails and appetizers for $5. all night long. I recommend the Screen Door they have the most offerings on their $5. menu and offer great service. This southern kitchen reminded me of the great foods found only in New Orleans and some of the other restaurants in the Plaza (Fedora, The Commissary) have very limited offerings on their $5 menu, but no limit on Dallitude if you do order from this menu, and when you do, say goodbye to your server. The experience at The Screen Door was the opposite!
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