Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review: In the Heights, Charlotte

If you're looking for a fabulous experience where your heart soars, you wipe tears away from your eyes and you struggle to stay in your seat because the beat of the music wants to make you salsa your way down the aisles, run, don't walk to see "In the Heights" playing at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center until Feb. 20.

This show has been described as a modern day "West Side Story" but it's so much more. Born as the brainchild of creator Lin Manuel Miranda, this 2008 Tony-award winner for Best Musical is the inspired tapestry of stories from residents living in NYC's Washington Heights. Fear not, the New York-inspired stories translates well; much like Seinfeld's humor became universal. It works because it tugs at the heartstrings and carries the universal stories no matter who you are or where you're from.

The entire company is inspired. But absolute standouts include Joseph Morales ("Usnavi,") Genny Lis Padilla ("Nina") and Danny Bolero ("Kevin.") The ensemble carry the same type of intensity and energy that made this show such a hit on the Broadway stage. Know that this is a modern show, one that honors the best of Broadway musicals of great storytelling, beautiful sets and magical lighting but brings something entirely fresh and modern that we haven't seen in a contemporary setting before.

Miranda's lyrics blend the best of hip-hop, rap, and a pop beat mixed with salsa, meringue and bossa nova beats. All set within the American Dream. That's a pretty high bar and "Heights" surpasses it in every song.

This is a show that will be enjoyed by anyone who ever had a dream and put it all on the line to make it happen. It's one of the most entertaining and inspired theatrical experiences I've had in awhile. 2011 is shaping up to be a fabulous season for the arts in Charlotte. See "Heights" and know your heart will soar the heights, too!

Alison Woo
Arts & Entertainment Reporter, Carolina Weekly Newsgroup

To read my interview with "Heights" actress Genny Lis Padilla, click here.

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