In the Heights (West End) Review

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Cast *

Benny – Spin

Vanessa – Jocasta Almgill

Abuela Claudia – Norma Atallah

Kevin – Vas Constanti

Camila – Josie Benson

Nina – Gabriela Garcia

Usnavi – Cleeve September

Sonny – Reiss Hinds

Carla – Sarah Naudi

Daniela – Philippa Stefani

Venue: Kings Cross Theatre

Date: Sunday 24th April 2016

I first saw this show on Broadway almost eight years ago, the night before it won the Tony Award for Best New Musical I must add (and I was at the awards, yes really). It was like nothing I had ever seen before in musical terms and I haven’t seen anything like it since. It was therefore really great to be able to see it again. It was even better than I remembered it, after listening to the songs on my iPod over the years. It really is such a special show and such a shame it has taken two attempts to get it going in London.

A big reason why I decided to see it again as well was because David Bedella was starring in it and had recently won an Olivier Award for his role. Devastation kicked in though when we were waiting to get into the seats and loads of cast changes were made for the performance, too many to actually notice which names had been said. But yes David was not in the show when we saw it, which was rather disappointing for a moment or two. That was short-lived though as you would never have guessed some of the actors were only doing their second performance in certain roles, incredible performers!

I must start by mentioning the incredible Kings Cross Theatre, which is shared between In the Heights and The Railway Children. You head down (a lot) of stairs into the Theatre, it might have felt like even more having finished the London Marathon a few hours before! But as you go down, it has such a cool atmosphere, and you are located on either Platform 1 or Platform 2. This is because the stage is in the middle of two sets of seats, this is made shorter for In the Heights. Interesting to have the shops opposite each other as feels like a proper street. I thought this really added more to the production than it being on a regular stage, got to love something that is a little bit different.

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Cleeve September was in the role of Usnavi and since seeing the show I found out that it was only the second time he had ever taken on the lead role. I would honestly never have guessed as he looked comfortable, relaxed and absolutely nailed each and every song he was part of, also taking on the more serious and upsetting moments in such tremendous fashion. He really did blow me away, I didn’t even realise he was not the “normal” Usnavi in all honesty he was that good and looked like he was having a great time from start to finish.

It turned out that we had a massive six understudies taking to the stage, again would never have actually realised with the high level of performances in a show that I really do think is so unique and special. You will never have seen anything like this before as a musical. It has such high energy and passion that you will not be able to help smiling and moving along to the engaging music. With plenty of very clever (and amusing) lyrics mixed in with some rap and powerful singing. Not to mention the breakdancing among other styles, it really does have an incredible energy.

Each and every one of the performers had amazing voices and really fit well with the characters and differences in them. Truly powerful and at times haunting, showing the struggle they are facing in the Heights! How difficult it has been for all of them and how they feel they need to get out, yet care about one another as they are a family. Which just shows how many key and incredible messages the story holds with it as well.

So it turns out my second viewing of this show has confirmed my love and appreciation for something that is truly unique and a little bit different. Aren’t we all just a little bit different and doesn’t this show help to appreciate yourself a little bit more and let you know that it is perfectly fine to be different.

I really do recommend this show a lot! Pleased it has been doing well in London and hope the Olivier Award wins (and nominations) will help raise the profile even more, massive well done to everyone involved in the production!

*I must apologise if I got any cast member in the wrong role, had to go off memory and matching to photos in the programme.

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4 thoughts on “In the Heights (West End) Review

  1. […] April was rather quiet at the beginning of the month but I then more than made up for it with a London trip when I did the Marathon and of course I just had to fit some shows in. I did manage to catch something a little different in Facing the Music: A Life in Musical Theatre with Patricia Routledge, which was a fantastic evening of listening to clips from the shows she had been in and hearing her talk about her whole career. Just incase your unsure who she is, it’s Mrs Bucket from Keeping Up Appearances very lucky to have her come to South Shields at the Customs House! Read the full review here. Although before that I went to see The Father on its UK Tour, which is a truly emotional experience. A very powerful and important play which really was so very impressive, it was a little bit of a shame that the theatre wasn’t very full. Read the full review here. The start of the London trip was rather brilliant when I got to experience Matthew Perry on stage in The End of Longing, which he also wrote. It was thought-provoking and well just amazing to see him on stage putting everything into the emotional performance. Great that it was on in London! Read the full review here. I went to see Wicked yes really again, as my Auntie really wanted to see it. Worked out rather well though when we went across to the theatre in the morning and got three-day seats in the front row! I guess you cannot really go wrong with Wicked though, it is powerful and has some incredible songs. I actually think I find myself recommending it when people ask what to see when in London. Read the full review here. A lucky thing was also that In The Heights had a Sunday show so I bought tickets for us to see that as I saw it many years ago on Broadway the night before it won the Tony Award. It is still as engaging as ever and was truly fantastic to see some very talented performers as we had a lot of understudies taking on the roles. Read the full review here. […]

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