One of the most unforgettable moments of the 2008 Tony Awards was Lin-Manuel Miranda’s acceptance speech for Best Score for a Musical for In the Heights. The young composer did a free-style hip hop rap, thanking not only the cast and family, but also giving thanks to Broadway legend, Stephen Sondheim.
This week, I was pleased to finally see the winner of four 2008 Tony Awards and the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album, In the Heights at the Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.
Finding Your Hopes and Dreams
In the Heights is the a story of a close-knit Hispanic neighborhood in New York City, called Washington Heights. Usnavi, played to perfection by Perry Young is the narrator and central character in the story. Usnavi owns the corner bodega (convenience store), where everyone stops for their ‘cafe con leche‘, sodas and lottery tickets. Miranda played Usnavi in the original production on Broadway, but Perry Young was incredible in the touring production that came to Dallas last week. On stage for most of the show and with several long, fast paced, lyrically challenging numbers, he never missed a beat.
Other residents of the Heights include Abuela Claudia (played by Christina Aranda), a surrogate mother to Usnavi and the heart and soul of the neighborhood. Presilah Nunez as Vanessa and Virginia Cavaliere as Nina star in the two female lead roles. Nunez as the sexy, Vanessa looking to get out of the ghetto for a better life and Cavaliere as Nina, the college student carrying the burden of all her family’s hopes and dreams are both wonderful.
Virginia Cavaliere shines in her duets, “When You’re Home” and ” Sunrise” with Kyle Carter, who plays Benny. As Vanessa, Presilah Nunez has several impressive solo moments in the show and her voice is more than up to the challenge, especially in “96000” and “Champagne“.
Usnavi finds out that he has sold a winning lottery ticket, causing excitement and hope for everyone. Epitomizing the theme of the show, in “96000“, the neighborhood residents sing about their plans and dream if they won $96,000. It is one of the highlights of the evening.
When You’re Home
Full of the lively rhythm of Latin Hip Hop, In the Heights, is the all-American story of dreaming of a better life and finding your place in the world, a place to call home.
In the Heights is playing at the Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center through March 25, 2012. Contact the ATTPAC Box Office for tickets or for more information call 214-880-0202.