“Within the Heights” is about within the uppermost a part of Manhattan, Washington Heights, a barrio that serves as a microcosm for the Latinx immigrant expertise.
Staging the award-winning musical by Lin-Guide Miranda (idea, music and lyrics, with e-book by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes) in a small house like San Diego Musical Theatre’s non permanent Kearny Mesa digs, makes it intimate, sustaining the sense of a good, tightly-packed group. And this present is all about group and household. (The latest John M. Chu movie was, in my view, overblown and hyperbolic)
Within the succesful, assured, realizing fingers of director Carlos Mendoza (who choreographed the present at Moonlight Amphitheatre in 2017, for which he was lauded by the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle), the musical feels private. It’s transferring, energetic and upbeat, due to the skillful choreography of Laurie Muñiz.
Hudes’ e-book is intelligent, amusing and touching. And Miranda’s terrific rating captures the essence of a number of nations and cultures: Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, Colombian and extra.
The forged is excellent, a beautiful ensemble with sturdy singing voices (although the lead girls appear to have been inspired to belt at ear-piercing quantity at instances).
It’s unhappy that San Diego Musical Theatre is not supporting native dwell musicians, however the pre-recorded music works nicely to take care of the stream and the vitality.
On the heart is lovable, proficient and charismatic Sebastian Montenegro as Usnavi de la Vega, the function Miranda assayed himself Off and On Broadway, the place the present ran for almost three years, and garnered 4 Tony Awards in 2009 (it was nominated for 13).
All the first characters are wonderful: Charlie Orozco as Sonny, the younger, feisty, humorous cousin of Usnavi, serving to on the bodega that facilities the neighborhood; Arianna Vila as Vanessa, the upwardly-mobile hairdresser whom Usnavi is simply too shy and awkward to ask out; Liliana Rodriguez and Lena Ceja as her salon partners-in-gossip (“No Me Diga”); Vanessa Orozco as Nina, the Nice Hope of the world, who gained a scholarship to Stanford; Jordan Markus as her essential squeeze, Benny, who isn’t accepted by her dad and mom (Berto Fernández and Daisy Martínez) as a result of he’s not Latino, although he’s labored diligently at their Automotive Service enterprise for years; Analía Romero as Abuela Claudia (who actually isn’t anybody’s precise grandma, although she grounds the entire block along with her knowledge and her “Paciencia y Fe”); and the Piragua Man (Ramiro Garcia, Jr.), who tries to maintain all of them cool within the scorching summer time warmth.
These three generations are painfully conscious of the sacrifices made by the kin who introduced them to the crowded New York enclave they name house. As rents rise, they really feel the crunch of encroaching growth and gentrification. It may all be slipping away — this little island they created within the shadow of the George Washington Bridge.
Life choices need to be made — keep or go, dig in or transfer on. The sense of change and impending loss is palpable.
We’re watching three days within the lifetime of this found-family, together with a blackout, a spontaneous “Carnaval del Barrio,” lovers who come collectively within the darkness and beneath the Fourth of July fireworks (the set by Mathys Herbert and lighting by Michelle Miles are fairly efficient, as are the costumes by Janet Pitcher and the hair and wig design of Albee Alvarado).
There’s dying and rebirth, newfound love and separating pals. In being pressured to make selections, they’re all studying what’s most essential in life, and discovering their place on the planet.
This exuberant slice of life attracts us in to those points and issues, massive and small. We not solely watch the considerations and conflicts and connections of an immigrant group, however for a fleet 2½ hours, on this cozy house and spectacular manufacturing, we turn out to be part of all of it.
- San Diego Musical Theatre’s manufacturing of “In The Heights” runs by means of June 5 of their non permanent house at 4650 Mercury Road in San Diego
- Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees on Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
- Tickets ($40-$75) can be found at 858-560-5740 or sdmt.org
- Operating time: 2½ hrs.
- COVID Precautions: Indoor masks use is strongly really useful
Pat Launer, a member of the American Theatre Critics Affiliation, is a long-time San Diego arts author and an Emmy Award-winning theater critic. An archive of her previews and evaluations might be discovered at patlauner.com.