<em>In the Heights</em>

Courtesy Photo

In the Heights

In the Heights Reviewed

Multilingual Musical Explores Life in a New York Barrio

In the Heights paints a portrait of Latino immigrants chasing their dreams in the Dominican neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City. Directed by Clark Sayre, Dos Pueblos High School’s rendition of the Tony Award–winning play is not your average high school musical. Pulsating with rap, salsa, and Latin rhythms, this edgy production, where many songs are sung in Spanish by a terrific ensemble cast, proves that Dos Pueblos has some serious talent.

The barrio brings together strong, individual characters who all strive to achieve the American Dream. Starring as Usnavi, the very talented Robert Rodarte skillfully raps, sings, and delights the audience with humor and soul. Usnavi owns the local bodega, struggles to make ends meet, and hopes to impress the neighborhood girl Vanessa, convincingly played by Talya Steinberg. Usnavi’s Abuela Claudia, the matriarch of the Heights community, is masterfully portrayed by Xeni Tziouvaras, who powerfully delivers the poignant song “Paciencia y Fé.” College student Nina Rosario, skillfully played by Luana Psaros, returns home from Stanford University and reveals to her parents that she has lost her scholarship and dropped out. Local boy Benny, impressively played by Emmanuel Alejandro Unzueta Lemus, is there to support Nina while he finds his own way. Additionally, Alizah Walton is outstanding as Daniela, the sassy but sincere hairdresser. Other key performances include Ryan Thompson as Sonny, Kira Rittershaus and Cole Petersen as Camila and Kevin Rosario, and David Jimenez as the Piragua Guy.

Musical accompaniment is equally impressive by the outstanding orchestra, made up of professional musicians from the SBCC music department, as well as DPHS teachers, students, and alums. The production’s complex and full ensemble dance numbers are impressively choreographed and executed. With skillfully constructed sets, live-feed video projected behind the stage, a mural by renowned Chicano artist Manuel Unzueta, and graffiti painted by local artists, In the Heights is an innovative and heartfelt musical that is a must see.

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