Orange County Theatre Reviews

(PHOTO CREDIT: TAKE Creative)

Written by Patrick Chavis

Before Hamilton, Lin Manuel Miranda penned In the Heights, a musical that garnered praise in 2008 and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Under the skillful direction of Benjamin Perez, the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts created a stage masterpiece with their latest offering. It is one of the best shows I’ve seen from this theatre company, and it’s one of the best theatre shows I’ve ever seen. This show has everything: heart, soul, and incredible music. Currently, it’s the best show of the year.

Claudia Mulet and Rubén J. Carbajal star in the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts & McCoy Rigby Entertainment production of “IN THE HEIGHTS,” directed by Benjamin Perez and now playing at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

In the Heights is a musical about the Washington Heights community in New York City. The musical follows several different community members through dramatic scenes and music. Our main protagonist, Usnavi de la Vega (Ruben J. Carbajal), is the show’s narrator, aka MC (Master of Ceremony). He raps and sings throughout the show as life in the city unfolds before our very eyes.

The storyline is down-to-earth and relatable. We aren’t talking about watching spaceships or astral projections. In the Heights is a show about real people working a job on the corner and being shy around the girl you like. It’s a show about a solid connection to a culture and a community. It’s an American story about the hardships of being an immigrant. The script is put together in a classic style but with the modern use of Hip-hop and Latin influences. The show is a winner, and it won the Tony in 2008 for a good reason.

The acting in this production was exceptional across the board. I loved the actress who plays Abuela Claudia, the adopted grandmother figure of the community in the play. She sings a beautiful tune called “Paciencia Ye Fe,” which translates to “Patience and Faith.” The song was about Abuela’s Life in Cuba and why she left to live in Washington Heights.

“Piragua” is a cute, simple song delivered incredibly well by Kevin Solis, who plays the Piragua Guy. A Piragua is a Puerto Rican shaved ice treat. Nice to have one on a hot day.

The casting was spot on. The chemistry between Vanessa, played by Claudia Mulet, and Usnavi was undeniable. If you’re going to do this show, you have to get that right.

Dance captain Rachel Josefina’s choreography shines.

The set was gorgeous. It looks like two brownstones from New York. On the right of the stage, there’s a subway entrance. The middle of the stage depicts the bodega. It’s been years since I’ve been back to New York, but I remember my time near that area around the Cloisters. The design of the buildings is pretty accurate. The set felt very natural, and the actors moved around it and made it their own.

In the Heights is a touching and heartfelt piece. This production tells the story at such a high level of professionalism that I’m at a loss for words. It’s a masterpiece.

June 3-26, 2022

 

Masterpiece

Review
10 Overall
9.2 Users (1 vote)
Story10
Acting10
Set & Design10
Costumes10
Entertainment10
What people say... 1 Leave your rating
Great show!
The set, the lighting, costumes and talent were all great. Feedback would have to be the following: the sound was not equalized in a way that would enhance the vocal performances. Specifically with Nina and Benny. Both beautiful voices but the sound, mic placement and equalizer did not blend them out as good as it could have. The choreography was fine. I do think the set may have made it difficult and/or challenging for the dancers to fully express the choreography. As beautiful as the set was- it didn’t leave a lot of room for a full cast and dancers. Abuela, Nina and Usnavi were incredibly strong. As a Cuban/American this show is just a beautiful representation of culture and I was thrilled to share it locally with my kids. Thank you LMT for a great production.
June 10, 2022, 5:24 pm
Story9
Acting7.5
Set & Design9.5
Costumes10
Entertainment10
0
1
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