In The Heights

I’ve seen a lot of great musicals in my life. I saw the Lion King three times, once sitting front row, I saw Rent by myself and cried through most of it. I fell in love with Hairspray and the Color Purple was amazing. When people ask what my favorite musical is, I always said the Lion King, hands down. Now, I have to think about that after seeing In The Heights. That show has renewed my love of musical theatre. It’s been three weeks since I’ve seen it and I’ve probably played the soundtrack every single day.

I first heard about In The Heights in 2008 when it won four Tony Awards. I like watching the Tony’s because they always have performances from the shows. When I saw the performance from In The Heights, I wanted to see it instantly. It was a show about Dominicans living in Washington Heights, with a soundtrack that mixed hip hop with latin music. From that moment, not only did I want to go back to New York because I love it there, I wanted to go to see that show. In my journals I’d make a list of things I wanted to do and I’d always write “Go to NYC to see In The Heights.”

When I heard Corbin Bleu was starring in the show, I knew that I HAD to go. My favorite kid from High School Musical in the show that I was dying to see. I couldn’t miss it. So when the oppertunity to go to New York came up, I took it, only to see the show. I didn’t care that the ticket was expensive, or that I’d be going alone.

I went to the Saturday matinee show, sitting up the cheap seats alone. I bought the glossy show book and was so excited to be back in the theatre. I hadn’t seen a show since Color Purple in 2007 and I realized how much I missed watching live theatre. The lights dimmed and the show started.

The show is about Usnavi, the local bodega owner who narrates the show. He wants to go back to the Dominican Republic where his parents were born but doesn’t have enough money to do so. The cast of characters includes his love interest Vanessa who works at the salon and wants to get out of the barrio and move downtown. Benny, the only black guy in the barrio who wants to be a businessman and falls in love with his bosses daughter. Then there’s Usnavi’s grandmother who keeps the community together.

The first thing I noticed about the show was the amazing music. As I mentioned in my New York post, at intermission I got up and bought the soundtrack. I’ve never done that before. The entire time I sat in that seat and watched the show, the only thing I kept reminding myself was to stay present and enjoy every single second of being there. Because watching that show, with Corbin as the lead, in New York City was a complete dream come true.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve looked at In The Heights stuff all over the Internet. I’ve watched youtube videos, read articles, watched the Tony acceptance speeches. The creator of the show Lin Manuel-Miranda is a genius. He’s one of my new idols. He wrote the show, wrote all the music and starred in the show. Creative people of colour who are able to make their dreams come true always inspire me.

Seeing the show crossed one thing off my list of goals. It was  one of my best theatre experiences. I already want to go back and see it again. Since that probably won’t happen, I’ll just have to see it if it comes to Canada.

Here are some links to amazing youtube videos of the show. Some with Corbin and some with the original Broadway cast:

Corbin performances

Original cast on Tony Awards

Lin Manuel-Miranda Tony acceptance speech (so sick)


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