Atlanta Art Reviews by Susan K Asher
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‘In the Heights’ Tony Award-Winning Musical

2009 November 6
by Susan Asher
Photo: Joan Marcus

Photo: Joan Marcus

There are only three days left to see the 2008 Tony Award-winning play “In the Heights” at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. The show is fabulous!

Part “Rent” and part “West Side Story,” “In the Heights” is a story about the pains of life just north of Harlem in the poor Latino community of Washington Heights.

While there are subplots throughout the play, the main question these characters face is how are we going to get out of this barrio and make better lives for ourselves?

Although the script seems to linger at places, what makes this show fantastic is the extraordinary acting, singing and dancing by performers who are electric.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who grew up in a Latino community in northern Manhattan, developed the show, mixing rap, spoken word and Latino music with modern dance.

Bodega owner Usnavi (Kyle Beltran) seems like a character from a modern-day Shakespeare play with his rap and spoken word rhymes. He waves his arms like a star rapper, crossing his arms in front of him and jumping through the air, reaching to the sky, pointing the way toward life outside of the barrio.

Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography fuses hip-hop and contemporary dance (think “So You Think You Can Dance”) with sensuous salsa dances that are as hot as fire.

However, not all is perfect. The book, written by Quiara Alegría Hudes, seems to lack authenticity as do the accents of the performers, who sing in standard English and speak with a far less Latino accent than what is heard in the Heights.

Nonetheless, the story and characters are full of life. This show brings tears to the eyes and knocks you off your seat.

“In the Heights” won a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album and two Tony Awards (Best Musical and Best Original Score).

“In the Heights” runs at The Fox Theatre through Nov. 8.

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