Theater and Concert Reviews.
...'In the Heights'
by ROBERT MASSIMI 9 months ago in ARTA Summer Scorcher.Robert Massimi. In The Heights is a story about a young man who sees his neighbor (Washington Heights) in the course of three days. First appearing on Broadway at The Richard Rodgers Theater, In The Heights is a light, warm story with great songs and superb dancing.
Played at the Hackensack Performing Arts Center or HACPAC, In The Heights lived in all its glory. Like Broadway, this Heights too was a winner. Frank Borrelli who directed as well as did set design/lighting and sound design, had the cast razor sharp. For a community show, this one was clicking on all cylinders.
In The Heights is a long show, two and a half hours long, so the staging must be presented well to hold the audience. Between the dance numbers, the good looking cast, and great costumes, Borrelli has the cast clicking on all cylinders.
In The Heights is more than one young man's view of his changing neighborhood, it's about a small community in one section of New York City. It's about the family of the community, and the love that they have for one another. As the City sees itself gentrifying, neighborhoods like these are all but gone. The show points this out, we see a limousine business being offered to sell itself to make way for what will be a neighborhood of the past. The bodega in which the star narrates his life in the heights will also be gone, and so will the memories.
As a theater that is now only two years old, HACPAC will be around for a very long time if it continues to put forth great shows like this one. The performance last night could have easily played off Broadway. This talent level was off the charts for a community theater. Easily a Perry Award contender, In The Heights will be a benchmark as to what community theater should be...
Songs that are great and well composed such as: "No Me Digga," "When Your Home," "The Club," When The Sun Goes Down," and "Hundreds of Stories," land well in this show. With this talented cast, In the Heights sings and dances it way through the entire evening, leaving its audience entertained throughout. The passion of this Latino community gives their all; they show us through dance, their customs, as well as the love of life that each has. Done both comically, and through serious undertones, we are invited into these peoples' lives for a few hours to enjoy. Even though these people have little future, careers are left to cutting hair and running small shops, these people look out for one another, they love one another; respect here is at its utmost. The entire ensemble brings this out into the audience.
In a tight stage for so many actors and ensemble cast, the staging was done well. Even though audience members in the front sometimes got run over (me included), the set and staging were professionally done. In The Heights is a high energy play, and this cast was high octane.
What is considered a great Broadway show of its time, this community theater version has little to be embarrassed about. With a swinging band hidden onstage, the rhythm and its vibe throughout rings out in this well-appointed theater. The actors perform with such grace that it brings this solid story to its wonderful conclusion. Both sad and uplifting, we want to see these people again through the eyes of an audience that has wonderment about where and what will happen to these interesting people of the heights.
In The Heights is a fun musical, one that belts out great songs, and also
happens to have a great story to it. From its costumes (which are fantastic) to the deft glam lighting, this show is a hit on all levels. At the HACPAC, nothing was spared in this beautiful 255 seat venue.
robert massimi... Melon Bank, HSBC Bank, Jack Nicholson, Kate Winslet, Kate Beckensale, Old Dominion, J.B. Hunt, A. Dewy Pyle, T.D. Bank, Bank of America.