Before writing Hamilton, that made him a legend in musical theatre, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote this musical about a Latino community in New York.
When In the Heights opened on Broadway a decade ago, its blend of hip hop and salsa was innovative, even if the script never matched the revolutionary music.
It is set in the Hispanic-dominated area of Washington Heights in Manhattan, and it is about the sense of community and hostility in a big city.
Everyone aspires in “The Heights.” Usnavi (Albert Graver) wouldn’t mind moving to the Dominican Republic. Nina (Olivia Baird) has spent a year at Stanford University before dropping off and her parents are ready to sell the cab company they have created with many years of sacrifices to give Nina the money to continue her studies. Vanessa (Leah White) wants to move downtown. Benny (Sami Green) falls in love with Nina while he dreams of opening his own business and Abuela Claudia (Shannon Herbert) has her recipe for happiness in “Paciencia Y Fe (Patience and Faith).”
There are so many characters in this musical and the cast is so big that sometimes the limited stage of Stockwell Playhouse seems overcrowded. But on the other hand, this amplifies the sense of community that is the basis of this musical.
RicNic is a youth theatre company where every member of the company - from the director to the dancers to the designers to the drummer - is aged 16 to 21 years.
Even if it was hard to tune into what was being sung at times, the RincNic’s In the Heights is a great musical with high energy singing and dancing, where the music – performed by a live band- is at the centre of the show . All the cast and the ensemble give the best on stage, and the standards are very high. Lea, Oliva and Sami are so much fun and a pleasure to listen, and Albert as Usnavi is compelling in his role. He is likeable, naïve and warm, and, most of all, his rap is irresistible.
A bravo to all the cast, and to RicNic for the high quality of the production. It is worth going to see the show and support these talented actors.
In the Heights is at Stockwell Playhouse until Saturday 25th August