Introduction to: Contemporary Musicals- In the Heights

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In the Heights is a show with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes. The story is set over the course of three days, involving an ensemble cast of characters in the largely Dominican-American neighbourhood of Washington Heights in New York City.

The musical was nominated for 13 Tony Awards, winning four: Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler), and Best Orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman) and wholly deserves these awards. The musical revolves around various characters but focuses mainly on the lives of Usnavi, Abuela Claudia, and Nina Rosario, who all struggle in one manner or another, whether to keep the family store running, with health or with surviving college while footing the bill. We’ve all been there, but it’s the relationships between these people that will truly capture your heart.

Filled with love and passion, struggle and trouble, this musical is something that deals with a whole lot of issues on a small scale. Focusing on a specific neighbourhood allows for strong bonds to be conveyed and easily engaged with. It’s impossible not to fall in love with Usnavi’s awkward, yet charming infatuation with Vanessa but it’s their struggles that truly claim your interest.

Temper this with a new take on musical songs; think rap, salsa and R&B all thrown in together to create one of the best contemporary musical soundtracks around. Soon you’ll be singing along to ‘96000’, ‘Paciencia y Fe’ and ‘Blackout’ with the best of them.

This a play that, for once, isn’t just focused on white people. Welcome to South America transported to New York. You’re going to love it. High tempo, upbeat and with a ballad thrown in every now and then, this musical is not a one trick pony. All of the dance routines prove this, but they’re not for the faint hearted and if you can keep up with Usnavi’s lyrical play then you’re definitely a pro. Regardless, this musical remains a new favourite and is one that cannot be missed if you truly want depth and range.

Throw all of this in with a moment focused on the lottery and these characters are sure to be instantly taken to the heart and the mind. This musical is absolutely unforgettable and one that must be seen to be believed.

Information about show bookings can be found on the London In the Heights Website

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BA English student at University of Southampton and Editor for The Edge (2015-16). A deep love of reading, theatre and all things entertainment.

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