In the Heights … soarin’

MUSIC OWL AWARDS5th – lyrics; 3rd – direction; 1st – value

When I went: 5 November 2015

Music Owl Hoot rating: 5/5

Location: King’s Cross Theatre, London

Performers: Sam MacKay (Usnavi), Victoria Hamilton-Barritt (Daniela), Jade Ewen (Vanessa), Lily Frazer (Nina), Joe Aaron Reid (Benny), Eve Polycarpou (Abuela Claudia), David Bedella (Kevin)

Creative team: Lin-Manuel Miranda (music and lyrics), Luke Sheppard (director), Drew McOnie (choreographer), Paul Taylor Mills, Hilary A Williams, Tulchin / Bartner Productions (producers), Quiara Alegria Hudes (book)

Approximate price: £50

Special points: Fusion of hip-hop and Latin influences

Best bit: Blackout

If I could change one thing: Slightly more memorable songs

Review:

The musical:

Lin-Manuel Miranda has become famous due to the success of Hamilton, but In The Heights is in my opinion underrated by audiences, although it did win a Tony award for Best Musical. I think it more than deserves to transfer to the West End and is much better than a lot of the current productions there.

The fusion of hip-hop and Latin influences might put people off if they are looking for a more ‘traditional’ musical, but the combination of much heart and spirit, some punchy songs, brilliant lyrics and memorable dancing makes for a really great show.

This performance:

Almost immediately, I knew I was going to enjoy this show; the small-scale setting in Washington Heights, New York and the focus on some very likeable characters ensured that. I found myself increasingly impressed by the dancing and singing of the performers, especially Sam Mackay as Usnavi, Jade Ewen as Vanessa and Lily Frazer as Nina. Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, who I had previously seen in A Chorus Line, was also fabulous as hairdresser Daniela.

This was by far one of the best productions I had seen in a long time, and I would really like to see it again.

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