‘In the Heights’ draws audience into performance

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The musical “In the Heights” is based on the book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also wrote the popular musical, “Hamilton.”
This production of the show was performed at the Quadracci Powerhouse in the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and was directed by May Adrales. It was the first time I saw a production written by Miranda and I was not disappointed.
The story is set in a neighborhood in Washington Heights, New York, during the hottest days of the summer. We follow Usnavi, who runs the local bodega with his lazy younger cousin Sonny, and their loving Abuela Claudia, the main maternal figure in their lives.
We then have the Rosario family, Camille and Kevin, who own the cab company, and their daughter Nina, who in the story had just come back from her first year at Stanford University; and of course the ladies at the salon, Daniela, Carla and Vanessa. One night while Usnavi is closing up, he and his friends realize that he sold a winning lottery ticket that was worth $96,000, and everyone starts imagining what they’d do if it had been their winning ticket.
Meanwhile, a forbidden romance ensues between Nina and Benny, a family friend who works dispatch for the Rosario’s cab business. As the drama ensues, the heat continues to increase, making tensions rise further.
Just as intense as the show’s drama is the music and choreography; there are an array of genres included in this musical, which include hip-hop, salsa and soul music. The flair of the lyrics and dancing add so much raw emotion to the story, it’s hard not to love every minute of it.
As an audience member, I felt jealous of the actors on stage because all I wanted to do was get out of my seat and dance with them. My favorite part of the show was the ending – I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it was happy, and it wrapped up in a way that made sense for the course of the story.
Overall I would give this show a five out of five stars, and I would encourage you to try to make it to a showing if you see one around again – you won’t regret it!

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