Review submitted by Lina Snyder-Romero of South Lakes High School.
When a Dominican shop owner living in New York has a chance to leave his hood and go back to his island, he hesitates to abandon the city he’s always known, and the people who depend on him. Eventually, as seen in Clarksburg High School’s production of “In the Heights,” Usnavi de la Vega decides that home and family are more important to him than a future of relaxing on the beach.
With music and lyrics by Lin Manuel Miranda, and book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, “In the Heights” first graced the stages in 1999, telling the story of Latino immigrants making their living in the barrios of New York, but never forgetting where they came from.
Clarksburg’s production opened with Usnavi de la Vega (Carlos Hernandez) preparing his corner store for business and introducing the audience to the rest of the characters. A few of these characters stood out. Vanessa Garcia, Usnavi’s love interest played by Lady Marien Marasigan had excellent energy and expression. Sonny de la Vega, Usnavi’s cousin played by Mateo Ferro won the audience’s heart with his charisma and wit.
Also, worth mentioning were the ensemble performances in the first scene. The dancers on the street worked cohesively together while still maintaining their individual personalities, and executing the choreography without a single mistake.
Throughout the performance, Carlos Hernandez increased his energy and portrayed Usnavi with good timing, posture and diction. His chemistry with other characters in the show was strong, especially during songs like “Champagne” and “The Club.”
Additionally, enjoyable performances were those by Griffin Hellebuyck (Nina Rosario) whose outstanding vocals and keen characterization of a girl who dropped out of Stanford were prominent during her solo song, “Breathe,” Olivia Luzquinos (Camila Rosario) whose anger was tangible during her song “Enough” in which she settled an argument between her daughter and husband.
Kyra Allen (Abuela) had strong vocals and a sharp attitude that made her a crowd favorite, and Ricky Cardenas (Piragua Guy) played up the comedic elements of the show while also presenting an excellent range and human expression.
Despite some microphone and sound problems, the performers pulled through admirably, and their enthusiasm never faltered, building up to the finale where they went off with a bang. Although lighting had some inconsistencies, and background colors did not always match the mood of the scene, the set compensated for this, and created a true New York atmosphere in which the performers, costumed in street attire, blended seamlessly.
Clarksburg High School presented a colorful and bright production that emphasized the importance of staying true to your roots, even when they seem far away, and that family isn’t always the people who are related to you by blood.
The performance reviewed was from Saturday, 3/24/2017.
MD Theatre Guide proudly supports the Cappies by publishing select submitted reviews. The submitted reviews are not edited by MD Theatre Guide. The views expressed in the reviews are of the guest writer and do not represent the opinion of MD Theatre Guide.