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Published On: Mon, Mar 24th, 2008

Urban Jibaro Review: In The Heights On Broadway

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I’ll begin this review stating upfront that I am not a bonafide theatre critic. In fact my overall experience has been mostly independent off-Broadway productions along the vein of “Quien Mato a Hector Lavoe” and “La Lupe.” This is the opinion of a young Latino male that has not had exposure to “traditional Broadway,” if there is such a thing. I hope you have the privilege to discover Broadway as I have.

According to the official site “IN THE HEIGHTS is a new musical about three days in the life of Washington Heights, a vibrant and tight knit community at the top of the island of Manhattan. It’s a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open, and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. Find out what it takes to make a living, what it costs to have a dream, and what it means to be home.

So, I get ready to experience this new show that has so many of my friends talking and I am wondering where the hell I have been that I was not aware of it sooner! My friend Shellz da Stunna told me she saw this show years ago off-Broadway and I laughed because to be completely honest, I discovered it through a video on YOU TUBE. The video that the show put out called “Abuela” (spoofing Rihanna’s smash hit “Umbrella”), was a brilliant piece of work that actually summarized “In The Heights” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s struggle to make it to Broadway…and the chorus says it best, if it does not work out for you, “you can come home to your Abuela.”

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When I arrived at the theatre, sat in my seat and glanced at the stage, I suddenly felt as if I was smack in the heart of Washington Heights due to the amazing set that resembled a life-size rendition of Justin Bua’s “The Block” painting. The music was an explosive blend of the best Latino Caribbean music (Salsa & Merengue) with a strong Hip Hop vibe that really brings this story of a working class neighborhood to life. The music carries you through reflections of dreams as seen by Latinos that immigrated to the US in pursuit of a better life and their children who struggle with how to make that dream their reality. The rythm of this show lifted me and took me for a two hour ride that actually made me wish that I could jump on stage and dance with the cast. For anyone who was raised in any Latino neighborhood in NYC, the characters from Abuela to Sonny are all people you knew and loved at some point in your life. For anyone that is not familiar with the Latino experience as portrayed in this musical, it gives a great glimpse into the strong sense of Familia that is present in many Barrios. There is so much to say about this show, I do not want to delve any deeper for fear of saying too much and spoiling what promises to be a carnival of music and visual imagery that only a play set in Latino NYC can bring you.

In summary, to me anyways, “In The Heights” was everything that “West Side Story” was not. In comparison, this was an authentic story about Latinos that did not have to weave tales of drugs and gang life into the narrative in order to make for an interesting “peek” into nuestras vidas. My only dissapointment was that there were not more Latinos in the audience…I am happy to have discovered this show and the experience makes me feel as if there will be many more of our stories told on Broadway in the near future.

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For more information and for tickets click here!
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Buen provecho…

As I am,
George Torres
The Urban Jibaro

Special thanks to SPOTNYC for making it happen!!!!

Urban Jibaro Review: In The Heights On Broadway