BWW Review: Seattle Rep's IN THE HEIGHTS Will Bring You Home
Before there was "Hamilton" there was "In the Heights". I know I'm a nerd, but it floors me how many people don't know that. Most theater aficionados know of "Hamilton" and by extension of Lin-Manuel Miranda but have a blind spot for "In the Heights" the Tony winning show that put Miranda on the map. And while it certainly feels like an early work from the man who would become King, it's still quite stunning and ground breaking for its time and the production from the Seattle Rep manages to capture all the heat and heart that the show demands.
With a book by Quiara Alegria Hudes and music and lyrics from Miranda the Hip-Hop/Latin/Rap musical follows the residents of a section of Washington Heights in New York. Usanavi (Ryan Alvarado) runs the local bodega with his young cousin Sonny (Nicolas Garza). Daniela (Lillian Castillo) has the beauty shop next door with Carla and Vanessa (Alyssa V. Gomez and Stephanie Gomerez). And the Rosarios, Kevin and Camila (Tony Chiroldes and Karmine Alers) have the car service which includes driver Benny (David Kaverman) who's in love with their daughter Nina (Sophia Macias) who's off at college in California. And then there's Abuela Claudia (Yassmin Alers) who, while not really anyone's Abuela, is the matriarch and heart of the neighborhood.
The Rep's production is a more intimate one than I've seen owing to the smaller space as the one I'd seen prior was the National Tour. But that doesn't make it any less powerful. The intimate space may require fewer dancers and a tighter staging but the vibrant choreography from William Carlos Angulo when combined with director May Adrales' staging makes the neighborhood come alive. Each storyline interweaves seamlessly as their lives are all interwoven with each other making the stakes for one amplify as it becomes the stakes for all. And so, when tragedy eventually strikes, it's even more powerful.
The cast is sublime. Alvarado makes for a perfect through line for the tale and keeps it all moving but still retains his own story and intent. Garza is adorable as the young and itching to grow up Sonny. Kaverman and Macias have tons of chemistry together making their relationship smoking hot as do Alvarado and Gomerez but less hot and more hilariously awkward. And of course, everyone has incredible voices and dance moves.
But as good as everyone is, it's the women that are truly shining in the show. Macias' voice pierces the back of the house and your soul. Karmine Alers commands the stage as she commands her family during her number "Enough". Castillo blows the roof off the theater as she starts off the "Carnival". And Yassmin Alers steals the show as the lovable Abuela who's not only the heart of the neighborhood but the heart of the show.
If you're looking to expand your knowledge of all things Lin-Manuel Miranda or even just see this wonderful piece again, this production has got you more than covered. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give the Seattle Rep's production of "In the Heights" a heartfelt YAY. By the end, you'll all feel like you're home.