This week, we headed down to King’s Cross Theatre to check out the Olivier nominated In The Heights. Here are our top five reasons why you should embrace your inner Latino and go and see it.
1.It’s something different
Lin Manuel-Miranda is currently the hottest property in the theatre world, with his show Hamilton getting deserved plaudits on Broadway. In The Heights offers an opportunity to look at some of his earlier work and witness his unique style first hand. It mixes musical styles, merging more traditional numbers with some brilliant use of hip hop; this gives it a fresh and interesting feel that will definitely appeal to younger audiences. It also seamlessly merges English and Spanish, giving an opportunity to show that London crowds can deal with foreign languages without their heads exploding. In The Heights was nominated for thirteen Tony Awards in 2008, winning four including Best Musical.
Drew McOnie is a busy man at the moment; in the same year as he developed In The Heights, he worked on Oklahoma!, Bugsy Malone, Hairspray and The Lorax. He has been nominated for an Olivier for In The Heights and it is very easy to see why; it features some of the best choreography you can find in London at the moment. A thrilling mix of street dance, Latin and ballet, it leads to some breathtaking extended dance sequences, especially in a high energy end to the first half.
3.A young and talented cast
Apart from a few experienced hands (David Bedella and Eve Polycarpou) this is a relatively fresh-faced cast, with many of the leading roles having only a handful of credits to date. Sam Mackay is wonderfully sweet and innocent as Usnavi (I actually prefer his performance to Miranda’s on Broadway), whilst Sarah Naudi and Cleve September also provide fantastic support. Seeing such a young, energetic and talented ensemble suggests that the future of London theatre is in safe hands.
4.Philippa Stefani as Daniela
However, there is one cast member in particular who really steals the show. Philippa Stefani is hilarious as the brooding and catty Daniela. As well as being a shrewd actress, she’s also got a fantastic and soulful singing voice, bringing the house down with her second half number Carnival de Barrio. Stefani was originally in the ensemble, but took over due to Victoria Hamilton-Barritt leaving to have a baby. Whilst Hamilton-Barritt was by all accounts excellent, she has a more than worthy replacement in the talented Stefani.
5.King’s Cross Theatre
King’s Cross Theatre has only been part of London’s extensive theatre landscape for a few years, but it has already built up a strong reputation for quality shows. It is also one of the nicer theatres to visit, with a spacious bar and an interesting traverse stage. You can also use the opportunity to see The Railway Children, another superb production, which shares a space with In The Heights.
So how many more reasons do you need? Head on down to the barrio! It’s now booking until October 2016