If you know me, you know how I'm obsessed with "In the Heights." It's an interesting musical for a Jewish girl (originally) from the midwest to become obsessed with. However, this musical resonates with me more than most of the musicals I really like. I rank it above "Wicked" and very close to "Rent" in my list of favorite musicals of all time. The music moves me to sing and dance. Some of it even brings me to tears. I first became interested when I saw the performance of "96,000" on the Tony awards. Then I got the Original Broadway Cast recording around October of 2008 and did what I usually do with musicals....learned the songs and the story just through what I was hearing. The first time I heard Vanessa (played by Karen Olivo) sing "It won't be Long Now", I got misty-eyed. In November of 2008, I found a magazine on a train with Lin-Manuel Miranda on the cover and a story all about how he conceived and put together the show. He is amazingly talented as a writer, director AND actor (he played Usnavi in the Original Broadway Cast). Of course, I developed a crush on him that could only be usurped by Adam Lambert the following year. :)
In March of 2009, my husband and I got to see "In the Heights" on Broadway for our anniversary. The show was even more amazing than I expected. I loved how the story came together between the songs and all the dancing. There was so much "life" on stage! We were especially excited that Shaun Taylor-Corbett, an actor from our sons' favorite show ("Hi-5"), was in it and that he got to play the Piragua guy. I got the same feeling I did when I first saw "Rent," that I was reuniting with old friends. By the end of the show, I had tears streaming down my face. Afterward, we got to meet and take pictures with the actors and actresses by the stage door. We, of course, had to wait till Shaun came out to tell him that our kids were huge fans of his. :) He was very nice about it and didn't get embarrassed at all. I'm happy for him that he gets to play Sonny in the touring cast. Another cool personality was Robin DeJesus. I had previously seen him in the movie "Camp" and shared that fact. He was very friendly and modest.
What I also love about "In the Heights" is that, similar to "Rent", it does not just focus on one main character. Each character in the story has dreams and goals of their own. Most of them get their own song to share about it. One that stands out in particular is "Paciencia y Fe," sung by Abuela Claudia. It's about her life growing up and her move to America and all her dreams since then. I love the concept of patience and faith coming together (which is why I was able to get the tickets to see the show in the first place). I really liked Daniela and the comic relief she added to the show. She had such snappy lines and a fun attitude. Her friend Carla was fun too.
Overall, I love the concept of families wanting to make good lives for each other. It’s so poignant and definitely a driving force behind why we are where we live today. I hope I can see “In the Heights” again sometime and I encourage all readers to do the same, whether it is playing in a town near you or you have to go to Broadway (which is an experience that even takes “In the Heights” to new heights).