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Monday, September 9, 2019

"In the Heights" @ PCS

"In the Heights" is a splendid show. It's fearlessly modern, but unafraid to nod to the classics. It laid the groundwork for "Hamilton", which would complete Lin-Manuel Miranda's quest to redefine what was "allowed" in a Broadway musical. "In the Heights" is revolutionary in its own right, too--totally apart from Miranda's blockbuster sophomore effort: It was the first successful Latin-themed Broadway musical since "Westside Story" in 1957.

 I would also dub "In the Heights" a musical for those who don't particularly like musicals, a group that includes myself. Yes,. that is mostly due to its aforementioned  modernity, but also its eye-popping choreography. (The show begins with a graffiti-artist tagging a store-gate, he executes a gravity-defying flourish at the end that's so impressive it's used as the show's logo.) This is just a foretaste of what's to come.

Stand-out numbers include: "It Won't Be Long Now" and "When You're Home". Perhaps the highest praise I can give the show is this:  "In the Heights" will mark the first time I have ever asked to see a show twice. While perusing the playbill in preparation for this review,  I saw that Yassmin Alers will be taking over the role of Abuela Claudia after Opening Night. Yassmin  Alers was an original cast member in the best musical ever written: Paul Simon's "The Capeman." The chance to see someone who was in that show, in my own backyard makes my heart pound. Miranda himself was a fan, lamenting the show's premature closure in interviews, and remarking that "In the Heights" began germinating as a means to fill the void left by it for Latino actors  New Artistic Director Marissa Wolf has a small connection to it as well, having done work at The Public Theater, which oversaw its latest Post-Broadway incarnation in Central Park. I'm always a little surprised to learn how well-read this website is within the theatre-community. I hope Ms. Wolf and Ms. Alers  read it. Will this be the beginning of my quest to see "The Capeman" on a Portland Stage? I don't know, but in the words of Abuela Claudia: I shall have "paciencia y fe."