Last year the UK Premiere of In The Heights opened at the Southwark Playhouse and reaction was extraordinary, the critics went wild and after a string of five star reviews you couldn’t get a ticket for love nor money. There were calls for a West End transfer but when nothing was announced I thought that I had lost the chance to see it.
But In The Heights is back! It opened last week at the Kings Cross Theatre sharing the pop-up theatre space with the Railway Children production. The steam train is out of sight, the tracks covered up and the Edwardian Yorkshire Station is transformed into a vibrant neighbourhood in New York City called Washington Heights.
Featuring much of the original cast from Southwark Playhouse, In the Heights extended it’s run whilst only in previews and now instead of just 4 weeks it is running until January 3rd – so what is so special about this show?
In The Heights | Review
It is special because it is unique…I have certainly never seen anything like it before. High energy, pulsating and sassy it is an intoxicating cocktail of music and dance. The music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda are a combination of Hip Hop and Latino Salsa which seems like an unlikely combination but trust me, it works and with steamy hot choreography by Drew McOnie In the Heights possesses an infectious beat which digs into your soul.
Set in a sweltering hot summer in Manhattan the Puerto Rican/ Dominican community of Washington Heights all dream of a better future. Usnavi worships the beautiful Vanessa from afar unable to ask her out. Nina has dropped out from University disappointing her parents, the ladies at the beauty parlour gossip and dole out advice and the matriarch Abeula watches over them all, happy feeding the birds and watching the stars.
None of the storylines are heavy as the emphasis of this show is firmly on the music however the characters really get under your skin. The opening very loud and raucous rap number had me wondering what I had got myself so I was surprised by the end how much I had got involved and I was twice moved to tears during the second act.
A huge mention has to go to Victoria Hamilton-Barritt playing the sassy beautician Daniela who has an opinion on everything strutting about with attitude and a striking stage presence, I thought it was ingenious making her character pregnant as it accentuated her presence even more until I realised it was actually a real baby bump! That woman has energy!
The show has such a positive vibe I am sure that it will do very well at it’s new home at Kings Cross Theatre. It is a fabulous night’s entertainment and with tickets cheaper than usual West End prices it is great value for money. One word of warning though, it you are travelling back to the South East be prepared to take the last train home, with an 8pm start it can be quite a late night, but oh so worth it.
Reviewer: Sammi O’Neill
Photo Credits: Johan Persson