The Tony Award-winning musical IN THE HEIGHTS is about home, family and finding where you belong. This Latino-based musical has just made it’s premiere in San Antonio, TX at the historic Woodlawn Theater. In this musical, the energy is high and the story is strong.
I had heard the story of IN THE HEIGHTS but until opening night, I had never experienced the musical. It is the story of Latino immigrants who are all working in their own, unique way to succeed in America while, at the same time, hanging on to their cultura, values y familia. The story of the immigrant is universal and will resonate with the audience of any background.
As the story unfolds, we get a look in to the every day lives of a community. Usnavi is a bodega owner who loves his neighborhood. His heart belongs to Vanessa who feels stuck and dreams of leaving the neighborhood. Abuela Claudia is the ‘grandmother’ to the entire neighborhood and kept after Usnavi once he lost his parents. Nina is the good girl who comes home from college. Her parents struggle with decisions whether to keep their business or to fund Nina’s college education. Benny works for Nina’s parents and struggles to gain their approval to date Nina. All together, these characters and more tell their story of dreams, challenges and celebrations to the beat of música latina.
SAN ANTONIO CAST
The San Antonio cast brings the energy to the stage. Three steady and strong vocal performers are Miguel Ochoa – Usnavi; Rachel Peña – Nina and Ana Hernandez – Abuela Claudia. Still, funny lady Rebecca Trinidad – Daniela sings one of my favorite shake-your-booty musical pieces and Stephen Martinez – Kevin Rosario (Nina’s dad) moved me to tears with his performance of “Inutil (Useless)”.
I spoke with Miguel Ochoa who played Usnavi and asked about his thoughts on playing Usnavi in San Antonio’s premier of IN THE HEIGHTS.
When I saw this show, I knew I had to play Usnavi.
Ochoa explained to me that he was proud to represent a prominent character in this Latino-American immigrant story as he is a first generation Mexican-American. On opening night, Ochoa’s parents were by his side. They were full of pride.
THE MUSIC – BOMBASTA San Antonio’s Barrio Band
The sounds of la música will make you want to hop out of your seat and dance in the aisle thanks to the styles of BOMBASTA! Well, if you like salsa and hip-hop. If not, you will still enjoy the rhythm and lyrics. The cast also belted out great ballads. In the Woodlawn Theater, Bombasta sits up high on the second floor of the neighborhood. It was a pleasure to have a glimpse of these musicians throughout the performance. A few of my favorite canciones were Benny and Nina’s “When You’re Home”, Daniela’s ever-so-fun “Carnaval del Barrio” and Usnavi’s moving “Alabanza”.
Bombasta is a 10-piece Barrio band who mixes styles and instrumentations as effortlessly as their lyrics travel between English and Spanish. They have been known to share the bill with artists like Los Lobos and Groupo Fantasma as well as two of my new favorite artistas Locos Por Juana and La Santa Cecilia. So, yes, they are an excellent (and really only) choice for IN THE HEIGHTS in San Antonio.
IN THE HEIGHTS
Directed by Greg Hinojosa, choreographed by Carla Fey Sankey, music directed by Jaime Ramirez.
Woodlawn Theater, 1920 Fredericksburg Rd., San Antonio, TX
Until June 23, 2013
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.and Sundays at 3 p.m.
Tickets are available to purchase online at www.woodlawntheatre.com, or by calling the box office at 210- 267- 8388.
Prices are $15 for students and children, $20 for seniors and military, and $23 for adults.
Written by Quiara Alegría Hudes and conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda, In the Heights is a Grammy® Award winner and recipient of the Tony Award® for Best Musical, Best Music and Lyrics, Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations. Adding to the trophy case, it also was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.