Friday 25 March 2016

In The Heights - Review

Kings Cross Theatre, London


Music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Book by Quiara Alegria Hudes
Conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Directed by Luke Sheppard

Sam McKay and Eve Polycarpou

This week offered a chance to re-visit Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights and a first time to see it in its Kings Cross home. The revised traverse staging is a magnificent showcase for the production’s first and foremost strength – an exuberant explosion of Latino energy, fuelled by Drew McOnie’s Olivier nominated electric choreography.

Hudes' story remains slight but whilst there may be no soaring perspective on the human condition to match the splendour of McOnie's dance, as the staging swoops in upon life across New York’s Washington Heights the frenetic salsa-fused culture and tempo of the barrio proves infectious

Opening with one man and his boom box, the show’s opening number In The Heights nails the mood immediately, rising swiftly to our first glimpse of McOnie’s choreography. There appears such a fusion between dance and the rap-infused lyrics it could almost be as if the two had been written and choregraphed simultaneously.

Sam McKay still shines as Usnavi, whose bodega provides a communal hotspot. McKay drives the lyrical pulse of the show, though on the night and in a supporting role Cleve September’s Sonny stole the show.

Amongst the female members of the company, Courtney Mae Briggs lights up the ensemble whilst Eve Polycarpou continues to inject such warmth and love as Abuela Claudia, you just want to give her a big hug – and that’s without even mentioning her epic solo number Paciencia y Fe. Also reprising his Southwark role, David Bedella’s passionate yet indignantly paternal Kevin justifies his Olivier nomination.

Luke Sheppard, together with designer takis and lighting guru Howard Hudson have done an ingenious job in expanding the production to fit this most unique of stages. As Miranda's star continues to ascend with Broadway’s Hamilton, In The Heights offers London a glimpse of his visionary talent.

Booking until 30th October

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