Review: R-S theatrics brings 'In the Heights' to STL

Review: R-S theatrics brings 'In the Heights' to STL

Erin Karll

R-S Theatrics prides itself on presenting works that have never been done in St Louis at the regional level. This production brought the original work of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes. 'In the Heights' is the semi-autobiographical musical by Miranda, best known for the current smash hit on Broadway Hamilton.

Set in the neighborhood he grew up in, Washington Heights in upper Manhattan, the story follows a first generation American running his family's corner bodega after his parents pass away. We stay on the corner all forth of July weekend. The plot revolves around the gentrification of the area. Shops are closing and people are trying to move out. With all the talk of who belongs here this a beautiful reminder to fly the flag of where ever you are from. 'In the Heights' is one of my favorite shows and this production was a wonderful experience for those who love Lin-Maunel's work and those just wanting to see a great show on a night out.

The production did face some technical difficulties. Microphones would pop and come in and out. The strong cast and musicians overcame those few issues quickly. Standouts in the cast are Jesse Muñoz (Usnavi), Cassandra Lopez (Nina), Carmen García (Abuela Claudia), Kelvin Urday (Piragüero), and Kevin Corpuz (Sonny). Muñoz took the reins of the show and ran. A powerful and confident display for a complicated character. Lopez's voice was a perfect fit for 'Nina'. Strong and a wonderful blend with Marshall Jennings (Benny). García owned the stage during 'Paciencia y Fe'. That was one of my favorite parts. The use of flashback actors (Claudia's Mom: Cecily A King, young Claudia: Alora Marguerite, teen Claudia: Isabel García) along with the staging of the company was so touching and timely.  Urday as the Piragua seller drew the audience and the scenes helped the story move and the quick pace that it needed. Corpuz as 'Usnavi's' cousin 'Sonny' got so many of the laughs. He delivered the one-liners beautifully and stole some scenes while trying to impress 'Nina'.

The ensemble was a strong group. The choreography (Cecily A King) worked well on the small stage and covered the many genres written into the story. Staging and sets (Keller Ryan) worked well in this stunning production. Costumes by Sara Porter fit the story well.

This would be the part of the review where I tell you to 'get your tickets now!' 'Visit Metrotix.com without delay!' Sadly I can not, because the entire run has sold out. You can contact the box office about being added to the nightly wait list, and there is talks about adding another date. Check out www.r-stheatrics.com/index for more details.

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