Review: In the Heights


Dalton Gates

The set as it appeared at the end of “In The Heights” recreates the look of Washington Heights, New York in 2008.

Ari Clark, Senior Reporter

On Mar. 21 the Manitou Springs High School theater and choir classes went to see “In The Heights” at the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center. The original production was written by Lin Manuel Miranda, who also starred in it as the lead character, Usnavi. 

The Pikes Peak Center production was directed by Elise Santora, choreographed by Julio Agustin, scenic design by Rodrigo Hernandez, costume design by Oriana Lineweaver, lighting design by MC Fuste, sound design by Travis Wright, musical direction by Stephanie McGuffin, Edward Khris Fernandez stage managed and props were done by Sammy Gleason.

 The set contained three storefronts with apartments above, moving pieces showed us to different locations, but there were no major set changes. The balconies and windows belonging to the apartments were not used very often, while this did not really take away from the show, I feel like these set pieces could have been used a lot more even just by ensemble members. Overall the set was dazzling and the attention to detail only made everything pop more. Some shows are better with a more simplistic set, “In The Heights” is not one of them. It is a very flashy and bright show and the set needs to match that feeling. They definitely delivered. 

The light work was outstanding, it only aided the actors’ contagious energy. During one scene, a blackout occurs, for this scene they cut all lights on stage. Actors and sets were illuminated by candles and phone flashlights at first. As the song progressed they sang about fireworks being the only light they had, as they did the darkness was broken by colored flashes acting as fireworks. During larger and more upbeat numbers, patterns would be projected on the walls of the theater, while in slow solos the lights dropped to solid colors or even just one spotlight. 

Even during these slower songs the energy didnt drop for a second. The actors radiated energy throughout the whole show and kept the audience engaged. The return after intermission is always a struggle, if the show doesn’t have something that pulls the audience back in they will be unengaged. I think that this show pulled us back in well enough, the opening song for act two is less high energy which can always play into engagement. However the newly opened plots and acting made up for this enough. 

 In the ensemble there were a few familiar faces for the MSHS theater and choir classes: Justin Papp and Kaley Corinaldi both were seen in “Lumberjacks In Love” at the ENT center, which students saw in the fall. 

Although the entire supporting cast was incredible, Kaley Corinaldi and Ryan Wong were the standout dancers, even going so far as to perform a full tango in a scene that took place in a club.

 The orchestra only aided the energy and supported the actors. Their timing was immaculate and blended with the amazing voices on display. 

The Pikes Peak Center production of “In the Heights” closed on the second of April. I would have loved to see it again before it closed. Even as I was watching the show I found myself wishing I could go back and watch it again. I plan to keep a lookout for future shows from this theater, these actors and crew. 

The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company production of “Where We Belong” is running Apr. 13 through Apr. 23 and other shows will be coming to the theater next season, including “Rent” and “Misery”.