IN THE HEIGHTS
book by Quiara Alegria Hudes music & lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda .
Kings Cross Theatre Goods Way King’s Cross N1C 4UR To 10 April 2016.
Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri 8pm Sat & 23, 30 Dec 8.30pm Sun 6pm. Mat Tue 3pm.
no performance 4-17 Jan.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 871 7604.
Review: William Russell 12 October.
Hitting the heights magnificently.
Originally staged at Southwark Playhouse in May last year this exciting and exhausting musical has moved to the larger spaces of the Kings Cross Theatre completely unscathed. It is simply the best dance show in town.
Presented on Broadway in 2008, it won several Tony awards, but this is the show as directed by Luke Sheppard with choreography by Drew McOnie, not a carbon copy import from New York. Perhaps the score, lots of rap, hip hop and Latin American beat, although undeniably tuneful, gets a little wearing, and the book by Quiara Alegria Hudes, dealing with the problems of a Dominican community in Washington Heights, is not all that illuminating. We have been here before.
But it does not matter. The dancing and performances by a superb cast, some of whom were involved at Southwark, make this an evening of pure delight, beside which West Side Story looks like a vicarage tea party and Rent palls into insignificance.
Usnavi (Sam Mackay, a glorious comic performance) runs a convenience store with the help of Sonny (Cleve September, a dancing dynamo) and loves the wilful Daniela (Victoria Hamilton-Barritt in Chita Rivera mode). His mother Abuela Claudia ( Eve Polycarpou) wins the lottery, a win which will solve some of the problems ahead.
Kevin (David Bedella in fine voice), the local mini cab owner, gets into a rage when his daughter Nina (Lily Frazer) returns unexpectedly, having dropped out of Stamford. and starts to make out with his assistant Benny (Joe Aaron Reid).
There is a riot, a power cut, Abuela dies, having delivered a stunning aria in Act One, and Kevin sells his firm to pay Vanessa’s college fees to the fury of Mom, Camilla (Josie Benson).
Frazer and Reid warble beautifully; Jade Ewen as the pregnant hair dresser Vanessa stalks the stage oozing sex; and Josie Benson gets a terrific song of rage – Enough – to deliver in Act Two when she lays down the law and almost stops the action. The traverse setting with the audience on either side works to advantage, allowing McOnie’s choreography room to breathe.
Benny: Joe Aaron Reid.
Kevin: David Bedella.
Camila: Josie Benson.
Piragua Guy: Vas Constanti.
Vanessa: Jade Ewen
Nina: Lily Frazer.
Daniela: Victoria Hamilton-Barritt.
Usnavi: Sam Mackay.
Graffiti Pete: Antoine Murray-Straughan.
Carla: Sarah Naudi.
Sonny: Cleve September.
Ensemble: Jocasta Almgill, Courtney-Mae Briggs, Gabriela Garcia, Reiss Hinds, Spin, Philippa Stefani.
Swings: Michael Cortez, Alexzandra Sarmiento.
Director: Luke Sheppard.
Lighting: Howard Hudson.
Sound: Gareth Owen.
Orchestraterd/Musical arrangers: Alex Lacamoire, Bill Sherman.
Musical Director: Phil Cornwell.
Choreographer: Drew McOnie.
Costume: Gabriella Slade.