Friday, 18 December 2015

'In The Heights' at Kings Cross Theatre

Finally got round to seeing 'In The Heights', the Southwark Playhouse's production of the much lauded Broadway show that's been put on at Kings Cross Theatre. Yes, Kings Cross Theatre was a new one on me too, but I think it's a temporary theatre space behind Kings Cross station until the powers that be finally decide what to do with that area. 'In The Heights' was, I think, just starting it's Broadway run on one of our New York trips but didn't see it so this was a chance to see what all the fuss was about.

'In The Heights' is the 'rap musical' set in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan over a few hot summer days in the early 2000s. It's the Puerto Rican area and everyone knows everyone else and their business, a close-knit community threatened on all sides by rising rents and the challenges of modern living. It's the real world, kids. We have Usnavi who runs the local shop, Daniela who has the local hairdressers and centre of gossip and Kevin who runs the local cab company, it's all very local. And their stories inter-twine and develop. Over a few days they all learn, they all evolve and become different people - or maybe they expose the people they really all were all along?

So, okay, there's nothing new in the story to the show - boy fancies girl he grew up with, girl wants to better herself, girl finds she fancies boy then the lights go out - but I liked it. It's not the show, it's the energy I liked, the full-on commitment of the cast, the beaming smiles of the ensemble during the dance numbers, the whole thing. I even bought a programme.

I liked Sam Mackay as our hero, Usnavi (i.e. US Navy as inscribed on the side of ship) even though his delivery of the rap was a bit white-boy Eminem, and the heavily pregnant Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as Daniela (who I saw and enjoyed in 'A Chorus Line' a few years back). Lily Frazer was great as Nina, the girl who escapes the neighbourhood to go to university bout comes back as a drop-out, and what a great voice and presence she has. I must also mention Jade Ewen, the last Sugababe, who plays Vanessa, the girl who wants to get on for her acting and singing and the incredibly short skirts.

I liked it and it's great fun. Go and see it!

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