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Review: IN THE HEIGHTS at West Valley Arts is a Real Blast

IN THE HEIGHTS plays through July 16, 2022. 

Review: IN THE HEIGHTS at West Valley Arts is a Real Blast

IN THE HEIGHTS at West Valley Arts is a rapturous celebration of heritage and a real blast to experience.

What a joy to see the wonderful West Valley Performing Arts Center (formerly Hale Centre Theatre) put to such good use with a production that rivals any other theatre in Utah.

IN THE HEIGHTS (music and lyrics by Lin-Maniel Miranda, book by Quiara Alegría Hudes) won the Tony for Best Musical in 2008, along with Tonys for score, orchestrations, and choreography, and it was adapted into a major motion picture last year. It follows a cross-section of characters living in Washington Heights, a mostly Latino neighborhood in New York City. The music is filled with catchy rap, Latin rhythms, and moving Broadway ballads. Regardless of your cultural background, you will almost certainly identify with the universal situations and themes.

The show is a labor of love from a production team and cast that has lived this story in their own lives. Chilean-born director Juan Hector Pereira and Venezuelan-born choreographer Izzy Arrieta masterfully tell it with explosive energy and emotional resonance. The exceptionally talented cast, gloriously filled with people of color, brilliantly follow their lead, bringing Washington Heights to life.

Beatriz Melo is a powerhouse Nina who blows the roof off every time she sings. Kiirt Banks is a smooth talking but compassionate Benny. When they sing together, it's everything.

Pedro Flores is a loveable, endearing Usnavi, and Scotty Fletcher has charisma to spare as his cousin Sonny. Micki Martinez is a triple threat with stirring acting, singing, and dancing as Vanessa.

Every performer makes their own mark, whether lead, supporting, or ensemble. You can't forget the impression made by Sonia Maritza Inoa-Rosado Maughan as Abuela Claudia, Monte Garcia as Kevin, Sophia Valdez Davis as Camila, Luseane Pasa as Daniela, Teresa Jack as Carla, Rob Fernandez as Piragua Guy, Eli Ghaeini as Graffiti Pete, Stefanie Spiece as Young Claudia, or really any of the ensemble members in their tracks.

The set by Jason Baldwin is successfully suggestive of a realistic Washington Heights with thoroughly thought-out details and a lifelike city street flooring that is really quite extraordinary. The costumes by Kelsey Nichols are authentic to the neighborhood, transporting the audience to the heart of New York City.

And the lighting by Michael Gray! Ever-present but never indulgent, it is a tangible manifestation of your heart beating out of your chest for young love, family, community, and everything you are and hope desperately to become.

IN THE HEIGHTS plays through July 16, 2022. West Valley Arts has also recently announced its 2023 season. For tickets, call the box office at 801-965-5140 or visit www.wvcarts.org.

Photo Credit: L-R Beatriz Melo (Nina) and Kiirt Banks (Benny). Photo courtesy West Valley Arts.




From This Author - Tyler Hinton

Tyler Hinton has been a contributing editor at BroadwayWorld since January 2012. He has a BA from Brigham Young University (BYU) in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in... (read more about this author)


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