In the Heights
Alive with the sights and sounds of the barrio, In the Heights is all rhythm and heart. The energetic and extremely talented cast in director Carly Giroux’s Green Valley Theatre Company production more than does justice to the 2008 Tony Award-winner for Best Musical. The four-weekend run already is sold out (but a waiting list exists; so head to the website to sign up).
The plot, a sanitized and sentimental soap opera of a tale, chronicles three days in the lives of the mostly Dominican and Puerto Rican residents of Washington Heights, a working class Manhattan neighborhood. The narrator and riff-rapping guide is Usnavi (Elio Gutierrez), who runs the corner bodega where he seems to serve café con leche by the gallons. His younger cousin Sonny (the loose-limbed and likable Casey Camacho, a real find in the cast) mostly sort-of helps him keep an eye on the neighborhood.
Themes of family, friendship, love and acceptance, striving for the American Dream and winning the lottery are explored through such songs as the rousing, opening title tune; the haunting “Inutil (Useless),” sung by Joseph Ramos; “Breathe,” performed by Mariana Seda; and “Paciencia y Fe (Patience and Faith),” sung by Helen Ventura. A strong ensemble of dancers powers through high-energy hip-hop, salsa and other Latin-American dances. A bright brass band led by Peter Kagstrom provides the music for choreographer Jacob Montoya’s fancy footwork.