Are you dying to see Hamilton but unfortunately weren’t born into high enough aristocracy to witness the show in your lifetime? Sock and Buskin may have the answer with their presentation of In the Heights, directed by Sarah d’Angelo. The musical, based on a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, was Lin Manuel Miranda’s breakout work and role, garnering 13 Tony nominations and 4 wins (including Best Musical). And the cast and crew of Sock and Buskin’s production do it justice.
The show’s plot centers around the 181st street neighborhood of Washington Heights, a largely Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban community in New York City (being able to understand Spanish will definitely increase your appreciation of the show, although it is by no means necessary in order to follow the plot). Many unique, vibrant characters live there, and the musical revolves around their interweaving and complex storylines as they deal with themes of poverty, urban life, and the meaning of family. While dark at times, the performance is kept upbeat with lively musical numbers, elaborate choreography, and plenty of Salsa dancing.
The set and costume design makes it appear as though the show was ripped directly from the streets of New York City, and the pit band and crew keep the performance running like a well-oiled machine. The highlight of the performance for me was the first time I heard the voice of the unassuming piragüero (Rishi Wagle ’20), whose song about his piragua (shaved ice) cart somehow struck a chord in the heart of a viewer who has never eaten piragua before. The whole cast is littered with acting, dancing, and vocal talent, allowing them to bring to life a diverse set of musical numbers, from “Alabanza,” a funeral-esque ode, to “No me diga,” a song celebrating the gossip between three hairdressers.
Regardless of your interest in musicals or your Spanish-speaking background, In the Heights is definitely a show to see. Filled with heart, comedy, and more than a little romance, the performance brings to light the stories of an underrepresented community while never ceasing to entertain. And I really can’t get past the set and costumes. Seriously, they are shockingly well-rendered. I don’t know who was responsible for that aspect of the show, but hats off to those people. All of my hats. They’re gone.
In the Heights will be showing in the Stuart Theater from March 2 to March 12. Performances take place at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday through Sunday and also at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. Visit brown.edu/tickets for tickets and brown.edu/theatre for more information.