Having been wowed by the original Broadway cast in 2009, I was eager to see the London Production. Revived from its 2014 southwark playhouse production you can now catch In the Heights at the King’s Cross Theatre all the way through till April 2016.
In an immersive theatre experience you enter through a NY subway station and are immediately transported to washington heights, NYC. Bustling with latino music and drinks, it was a great atmosphere and vibe to walk into. Seeing members of the audience showing a little zumba hip moving along to the music and chatting and laughing over drinks, I decided to grab a drink and join in on the fun. Already breaking the preverbal ‘4th wall’ of theatre the audience seemed relaxed and in good spirits, even before the show started.
The experience continues as you have to enter the auditorium from either platform 1 or 2, crossing a railway track (courtesy of the other show that plays in this venue – The Railway Children), once inside you are greeted with a traverse theatre setting. For those of you you don’t know what type of stage layout that is, ( don’t be worried, I only found out last year ), it basically means that the audience is on two sides, think on either side of the long part of a rectangle.
A quick synopsis of the show for those of you who do not know much about it:
In The Heights is a modern contemporary musical with heavy elements of salsa and rap. In the Heights is set within a Latino community in Manhattan’s Washington Heights. With themes of immigration, love, home and the changing times. The community is pushed to their limits as the local area is hit with gentrification, a heat wave, the decisions that come with winning the lottery in a poor neighbourhood and more.
There were so many stand out performances in the show, but also at the same time it is such a strong ensemble show. Everyone is a valid member of the cast and is needed to make the show what is it.
The choreography is by the very talented Drew McOnie, who has really exploded onto the scenes over the last few years and is paving his way from professional dancer to a outstanding choreographer. The show so cleverly combines elements of hip hop, salsa and latin dance and all partnered with jazz and technique. It was great to see a cast who could not only act and sing but they could all move! Both McOnie and the Director Luke Sheppard did wonders with bringing this show to life in the Traverse theatre.
I did have a few friends in the show but I sat there throughout the first half thinking, well I must know the female lead, but turns out everyone in the audience knew her as she was in Sugarbabes and I had just seen her on tv haha. With that being said Jade Ewen was phenomenal in the show. I feel this show was a great way her way to get established in the musical theatre world ( on that note she will be playing the role of Jasmine in the Original West End cast of Aladdin which opens later in 2016 ). Her vocals were Flawless and came out so effortlessly and consistently throughout the show, perfectly topped off with her acting ability and stunning looks.
The casting for this show was bang on the money as each of the leads complimented each other. Sam Mackay is the heart and soul of the show, don’t get me wrong this show would not happen without all of the cast members, but he is the heart of the washington Heights community. Charming and cheeky, boisterous Mackay graces the stage with dancing, acting and rapping.
Sweet and youthful Lily Frazer as Nina is partnered perfectly with street wise and career driven Joe aaron Reid as Benny. Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as Daniela is a lovely comedy element added to the show as the feisty hair salon owner.
As I said before every cast member is a stand out performer. Carefully selected by the casting director Will Burton and team as well McOnie and Shepard.
Here is a little teaser of what’s in store for you with this great show:
You can find out more and book tickets at http://intheheightslondon.com/
Make sure to catch a slice of this latin american musical before it closes in April.