Monday, January 14, 2008

In The Heights (this is a pre-review)

BOTTOM LINE: previews begin in a couple of weeks...this new musical comes to Broadway from a successful off-Broadway run last year. It's kind of like Rent, but a lot less whiney.

I saw In The Heights twice during its off-Broadway run; it was that fabulous. First of all, it's a really good story about the struggle of non-white families living in Washington Heights. Sure, it covers some typical plot points: Romeo and Juliet love story; importance of family in the barrio; struggle to succeed when societal odds are against you; the usual. The story itself is not that unique, but the production completely exemplifies what modern musical theatre can (and should) be. It's not a throw-back to a simpler Fred Astaire time. Instead, In The Heights is laden with the music and dance of urban 2008, on top of an otherwise beautiful and theatrical score. Hip hop does have a place in a musical theatre.

AND if that wasn't enough, it's (are you ready for this?!) a TOTALLY ORIGINAL work! No shit. They didn't take a movie and turn it into a musical. They didn't rework a musical from yesteryear. No sir, they created it out of thin air. They didn't even steal from other musicals to beef up their repertoire (at least not that I noticed). It was beyond refreshing to see this brand-new story, with something to say and a unique way to say it.

I'll definitely check it out it on Broadway and I'm excited to compare the runs to see what they've changed for more commerical intentions. I've already seen commercials and though they're a bit cheesy, I'm hoping In The Heights maintains its artistic integrity despite Broadway producers hands on the show. Expect the review soon, but in the meantime get some cheap preview tickets and check it out for yourself.

(Previews begin Feb. 14th, opening night is March 9th. In The Heights will play at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on 46th Street. For tickets, call 212-307-4100.

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