I originally saw Lin-Manuel Miranda’s debut musical In The Heights at the Southwark Playhouse when it had its UK premiere there a couple of years ago. I loved it, and was pleased when a transfer was announced – the show is currently playing at the new King’s Cross Theatre, just north of the station.
The show is playing in rep with The Railway Children, and I was impressed right off at the level of detail required to transform the front of house areas from a Victorian railway station to a Latin American barrio. Inside the auditorium, the show plays on a traverse stage, which is different to how it was presented at Southwark, but succeeds in immersing the audience into the electric atmosphere.
The show, which tells the story of a group of diverse Latin American immigrants living in the Washington Heights area of New York, is just as good as I remembered if not better. I adore the music, and the Act 1 closing song in particular still sends shivers down my spine. There isn’t a boring song among them, and every cast member gets their chance to shine. Drew McOnie’s electric choreography works just as well here.
Sam McKay still impresses as narrator and local store proprietor Usnavi, but most of the cast have changed from the original Southwark production. My favourites include Christine Allado as Vanessa and Philippa Stefani as Daniela, both of whom really stood out for me.
This wonderful musical deserves a huge audience. I very much hope that Miranda’s hit Hamilton will be coming to London in the near future, but until then, In The Heights will serve to showcase his immense talent – I hope to return again before long.