20 August 2008

Hitting the Highs

I'd never heard of this Broadway show before this week but it seemed like something that might be worth watching. Plans for finally watching Wicked on Broadway never coalesced and Spring Awakening wasn't age appropriate, plus it's playing in San Diego. In the Heights won the Tony's in 2008 and the few people I knew who'd seen it raved.

Basically, In the Heights is a hip hop version of Rent starring Latinos set in the Bronx. Also similarly to Rent, there's a multi-talented entertainer behind In the Heights. Lin-Manuel Miranda conceived the show, wrote the music and lyrics, and stars as Usnavi. While he can hardly sing a lick, his energy, enthusiasm, and rapping carries everything. He wrote the initial treatment of the show while attending Wesleyan. Yeah, what were you doing in college?

We had really great seats, just a few rows back from the stage, and that made the whole experience amazing. Staying up until 9 am the night before a matinee show? Difficult to say the least. The dancers especially were quite excellent and the choreography fit the music and style perfectly. While the story was hardly anything spectacular, or the songs extremely memorable after the fact, it's a good show. The marriage of musical and hip hop had to happen sometime and this is a fair representation of what could be possible. Unless you consider R.Kelly or Beyonce's work on MTV forerunners of the genre. Ew.

Does anyone remember this old school show at Sea World called City Streets? It was my favorite show there and it featured young people dancing and singing on a recreation of a city block. No idea why it was at Sea World in the first place because it contained no animals or water, but it was really amazing. The Wings of the World show took over that space but I miss it still. In the Heights reminded me of that, in a good way.