In the Heights at Walnut Street Theatre

200-in_heightsThe Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia has recently opened the Tony Award winning musical, IN THE HEIGHTS.  The show takes place over three days and is mostly comprised of people who live in the Dominican-American neighborhood.  The ensemble cast of characters live in Washington Heights, New York.  Music and lyrics are beautifully crafted by Lin Manuel Miranda who originated the lead role, Usnavi.

Having seen the show three times, I knew what to expect; incredible songs, fun dancing and an all around entertaining show.  However, I was a bit underwhealmed and surprised by the cast of characters that I favored in this production.  Thankfully there were a handful of cast members that stood out and carried the show.  Abuela Claudia played by Rayanne Gonzales and Nina played by Julia Hunter both had strong voices that captured the audience.  Another wonderful surprise was Kevin played by Danny Bolero.  His stern but loving demeanor was just right for Nina’s father.  The uber adorable, comedic relief, Piragua Guy played by Carlos Lopez was delightful to watch maneuver around the stage while selling his food.

The dancing in the show choreographed by Michelle Gaudette was entertaining and helped heighten the over all production.  It would have been nice to be more intrigued by the lead characters.  The music and lyrics are so good, you can’t help but enjoy yourself and although I was somewhat dissatisfied with the casting choices, the audience was highly entertained.  For more information take a look at the Walnut Street Theatre website:

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3 Responses to In the Heights at Walnut Street Theatre

  1. Dear Playbill Collector. Thanks for the great write-up. I’ve seen this cast and appreciate the artistry they put into their craft. While Bennie was interesting, his read on the part just couldn’t compare well with the original Bennie on Broadway. Thanks for the critique. Basil.

  2. “There’s no A train now”… Going to this In The Heights. He shoulda been singing (see below).


    Charles In (friggin) Charge

    I said a hip hop,
    Hippie to the hippie,
    The hip, hip a hop, and you don’t stop, a rock it
    To the bang bang boogie, say, up jump the boogie,
    To the rhythm of the boogie, the beat.
    Now, what you hear is not a test – I’m rappin’ to the beat,
    And me, the groove, and my friends are gonna try to move your feet.
    See, I am Wonder Mike, and I’d like to say hello,
    To the black, to the white, the red and the brown,
    The purple and yellow. But first, I gotta
    Bang bang, the boogie to the boogie,
    Say up jump the boogie to the bang bang boogie,
    Let’s rock, you don’t stop,
    Rock the rhythm that’ll make your body rock.
    Well so far you’ve heard my voice but I brought two friends along,
    And the next on the mic is my man Hank,
    C’mon, Hank, sing that song!

    Check it out, I’m the C-A-S-A, the N-O-V-A,
    And the rest is F-L-Y,
    You see I go by the code of the doctor of the mix,
    And these reasons I’ll tell you why.
    You see, I’m six foot one, and I’m tons of fun
    When I dress to a T,
    You see, I got more clothes than Muhammad Ali
    and I dress so viciously.
    I got bodyguards, I got two big cars
    That definitely ain’t the wack,
    I got a Lincoln Continental and a sunfoofed Cadillac.
    So after school I take a dip in the pool,
    Which is really on the wall,
    I got a colour TV, so I can see
    The Knicks play basketball. Hear me talk about
    Checkbooks, credit cards, mo’ money
    Than a sucker could ever spend,
    But I wouldn’t give a sucker or a bum form the Rucker
    Not a dime ’til I made it again. Everybody go
    Ho-tel, Mo-tel, Whatcha gonna do today? (Say what?)
    ‘Cos I’m a get a fly girl,
    Gonna get some spank n’ drive off in a def OJ. Everybody go
    Ho-tel, Mo-tel, Holiday Inn,
    Say if your girl starts actin’ up, then you take her friend.
    Master Gee! My mellow!
    It’s on to you, so whatcha gonna do?

    Well, it’s on’n’n’on’n’on on’n’on,
    The beat don’t stop until the break of dawn.
    I said M-A-S, T-E-R, a G with a double E,
    I said I go by the unforgettable name
    Of the man they call the Master Gee.
    Well, my name is known all over the world
    By all the foxy ladies and the pretty girls.
    I’m goin’ down in history
    As the baddest rapper there ever could be.
    Now I’m feelin’ the highs and you’re feelin’ the lows,
    The beat starts gettin’ into your toes
    You start poppin’ your fingers and stompin’ your feet
    And movin’ your body while while you’re sitting in your seat
    And then damn! Ya start doin’ the freak, I said
    Damn! Right outta your seat
    Then you throw your hands high in the air,
    Ya rockin’ to the rhythm, shake your derriere
    Ya rockin’ to the beat without a care,
    With the sureshot MCs for the affair.
    Now, I’m not as tall as the rest of the gang
    But I rap to the beat just the same.
    I got a little face, and a pair of brown eyes
    All I’m here to do, ladies, is hypnotize
    Singin’ on’n’n’on’n’on on’n’on,
    The beat don’t stop until the break of dawn
    Singin’ on’n’n’on’n’on on’n’on,
    Like a hot buttered pop da pop da pop dibbie dibbie
    Pop da pop pop, don’t you dare stop
    Come alive y’all, gimme whatcha got
    I guess by now you can take a hunch
    And find that I am the baby of the bunch
    But that’s okay, I still keep in stride,
    ‘Cos all I’m here to do is just wiggle your behind
    Singin’ on’n’n’on’n’on on’n’on,
    The beat don’t stop until the break of dawn.
    Singin’ on’n’n’on’n’on on’n’on,
    Rock rock, y’all, throw it on the floor
    I’m gonna freak you here, I’m gona freak you there,
    I’m gonna move you outta this atmosphere.
    ‘Cos I’m one of a kind and I’ll shock your mind
    I’ll put TNT in your behind. I said
    One, two, three, four, come on, girls, get on the floor
    A-come alive, y’all, a-gimme whatcha got
    ‘Cos I’m guaranteed to make you rock
    I said one, two, three, four, tell me, Wonder Mike
    What are you waiting for?

    I said a hip hop,
    The hippie to the hippie
    The hip hip a hop, and you don’t stop, a rock it
    To the bang bang boogie, say up jump the boogie,
    To the rhythm of the boogie, the beat.
    A Skiddleebebop, we rock, scooby doo,
    And guess what, America, we love you
    ‘Cos you rocked and a rolled with so much soul,
    You could rock ’til a hundred and one years old.
    I don’t mean to brag, I don’t mean to boast,
    But we like hot butter on our breakfast toast
    Rock it up, Baby Bubba!
    Baby Bubba to the boogie da bang bang da boogie
    To the beat, beat, it’s unique
    Come on everybody and dance to the beat!

    [Drum break]

    A hip hop
    The hippie to the hippie the
    Hip hip a hop and you don’t stop, rock it
    Rock it out, Baby Bubba to the boogie da bang bang
    The boogie to the boogie, the beat.
    I said, I can’t wait ’til the end of the week
    When I’m rappin’ to the rhythm of a groovy beat
    And I attempt to raise your body heat.
    Just blow your mind, so you can’t speak
    And do a thing but a-rock and shuffle your feet
    And let it change up to a dance called the freak
    And when you finally do come into your rhythmic beat,
    Reast a little while so you don’t get weak.
    I know a man named Hank
    He has more rhymes than a serious bank
    So come on Hank, sing that song,
    To the rhythm of the boogie, the bang bang da bong!

    Well, I’m Imp the Dimp, the ladies’ pimp,
    The women fight for my delight.
    But I’m the grandmaster with the three MCs
    That shock the house for the young ladies
    And when you come inside, into the front,
    You do the freak, spank, and do the bump
    And when the sucker MC try to prove a point,
    We’re a treacherous trio, we’re the serious joint!
    a-From sun to sun and from time to time
    I sit down and write a brand new rhyme
    Because they say that miracles never cease
    I’ve created a devastating masterpiece
    I’m gonna rock the mic ’til you can’t resist,
    Everybody, I say it goes like this
    Well, I was walking home late one afternoon
    A reporter stopped me for an interview
    She said she’s heard stories and she’s heard fables
    That I’m vicious on the mic and the turntable
    This young reporter I did adore,
    So I rocked some vicious rhymes like I never did before
    She said, “Damn, fly guy, I’m in love with you
    The Casanova legend must have been true”
    I said, “By the way, baby, what’s your name?”
    Said, “I go by name of Lois Lane
    And you could be my boyfriend, you surely can,
    Just let me quit my boyfriend called Superman.”
    I said, “He’s a fairy, I do suppose
    Flyin’ through the air in pantyhose
    He may be very sexy, or even cute,
    But he looks like a sucker in a blue and red suit,”
    I said, “You need a man man who’s got finesse
    And his whole name across his chest
    He may be able to fly all through the night,
    But can he rock a party ’til the early light?
    He can’t satisfy you with his little worm,
    But I can bust you out with my super sperm!”
    I go do it, I go do it, I go do it, do it, do it.
    An’ I’m here an’ I’m there, I’m Big Ban Hank, I’m everywhere
    Just throw your hands up in the air
    And party hardy like you just don’t care
    Let’s do it, don’t stop, y’all, a tick tock, y’all, you don’t stop!
    Go ho-tel, mo-tel, whatcha gonna do today? (Say what?)
    I’m gonna get a fly girl, gonna get some spank, drive off in a def OJ,
    Everybody go, “Ho-tel, mo-tel, Holiday Inn”
    You say if your girl starts actin’ up, then you take her friend
    I say skip, dive, what can I say?
    I can’t fit ’em all inside my OJ,
    So I just tak half, and bust ’em out,
    I give the rest to Master Gee so he can shock the house
    It was twelve o’clock one Friday night
    I was rockin’ to the beat and feelin’ all right
    Everybody was dancin’ on the floor
    Doin’ all the things they never did before
    And then this fly girl with a sexy lean
    She came into the bar, she came into the scene
    She travelled deeper inside the room
    All the fellas checked out her white Sassoons
    She came up to the table, looked into my eyes
    Then she turned around and shook her behind
    So I said to myself, it’s time for me to release
    My vicious rhyme I call my masterpiece
    And now people in the house, this is just for you
    A little rap to make you boogaloo
    Now the group you hear is called Phase Two
    And let me tell you somethin’, we’re a helluva crew
    Once a week, we’re on the street
    Just to cut in the jams and look at your feet
    For you to party, you gotta have the moves,
    So we’ll get right down and get you a groove
    For you to dance, you got to be hot
    So we’ll get right down and make you rock
    Now the system’s on and the girls are there
    You definitely have a rockin’ affair
    But let me tell you somethin’, there’s still one fact
    And to have a party, you got to have a rap
    So when the party’s over, you’re makin’ it home,
    And tryin’ to sleep before the break of dawn
    And while you’re sleepin’, you start to dream,
    And thinkin’ how you danced on the disco scene
    My name appears in your mind,
    Yeah, a name you know that was right on time
    It was Phase Two just doin’ a do
    Rockin’ you down ‘cos you knew we could
    To the rhythm of the beat that makes you freak,
    Come alive girls, get on your feet
    To the rhythm of the beat to the beat the beat
    To the double beat beat that makes you freak
    To the rhythm of the beat that says you go on
    On’n’on into the break of dawn
    Now I got a man comin’ on right now
    He’s garuanteed to throw down
    He goes by the name of Wonder Mike
    Come on, Wonder Mike, do what you like!

    I say a can of beer that’s sweeter than honey,
    Like a millionaire that has no money
    Like a rainy day that is not wet,
    Like a gamblin’ fiend that does not bet
    Like Dracula without his fangs,
    Like the boogie to the boogie without the boogie bang
    Like collard greens that don’t taste good,
    Like a tree that’s not made out of wood
    Like goin’ up and not comin’ down,
    Is just like the beat without the sound, no sound
    To the beat beat, you do the freak
    Everybody just rock and dance to the beat
    Have you ever went over a friends house to eat
    And the food just ain’t no good?
    The macaroni’s soggy, the peas are mushed,
    And the chicken tastes like wood
    So you try to play it off like you think you can
    By saying that you’re full
    And then your friend says, “Mama, he’s just being polite
    He ain’t finished, uh-uh, that’s bull!”
    So your heart starts pumpin’ and you think of a lie
    And you say that you already ate
    And your friend says “Man, there’s plenty of food”
    So you pile some more on your plate
    While the stinky food’s steamin’, your mind starts to dreamin’
    Of the moment that it’s time to leave
    And then you look at your plate and your chicken’s slowly rottin’
    Into something that looks like cheese
    Oh so you say “That’s it, I gotta leave this place
    I don’t care what these people think,
    I’m just sittin’ here makin’ myself nauseous
    With this ugly food that stinks”
    So you bust out the door while it’s still closed
    Still sick from the food you ate
    And then you run to the store for quick relief
    From a bottle of Kaopectate
    And then you call your friend two weeks later
    To see how he has been
    And he says, “I understand about the food,
    Baby Bubba, but we’re still friends”
    With a hip hop the hippie to the hippie
    The hip hip a hop, a you don’t stop the rockin’
    To the bang bang boogie
    Say up jump the boogie to the rhythm of the boogie the beat
    I say, “Hank, can ya rock?
    Can ya rock to the rhythm that just don’t stop?
    Can ya hip me to the shoobie doo?”
    I said, “Come on, make, make the people move!”

    I go to the balls and then ring the bell
    Because I am the man with the clientele
    And if ya ask me why I rock so well,
    A Big Bang, I got clientele
    And from the time I was only six years old
    I never forgot what I was told
    It was the best advice I ever had
    It came from my wise, dear old dad
    He said, “Sit down, punk, I wanna talk to you
    And don’t say a word until I’m through
    Now there’s a time to laugh, a time to cry
    A time to live and a time to die
    A time to break and a time to chill
    To act civilized or act real ill
    But whatever you do in your lifetime
    You never let an MC steal your rhyme”
    So from six to six ’til this very day
    I’ll always remember what he had to say
    So when the sucker MCs try to chump my style
    I let them know that I’m versatile
    I got style, finesse, and a little black book
    That’s filled with rhymes and I know you wanna look
    But the thing that seperates you from me
    And that is called originality
    Because my rhymes are on from what you heard
    I didn’t even bite, not a go—word
    And I say a little more, later on tonight
    So the sucker MCs can bite all night
    A tick a tock, y’all, a beat beat, y’all
    A let’s rock, y’all, you don’t stop
    Ya go, “Ho-tel, mo-tel, whatcha gonna do today?” (Say what?)
    Ya say, “I’m gonna get a fly girl, gonna get some spank and

    Drive off in a def OJ”
    Everybody go, “Ho-tel, mo-tel, Holiday Inn”
    Ya say if your girl starts actin’ up, then you take her friends
    A like that, y’all, to the beat, y’all
    Beat beat y’all, ya don’t stop!
    A Master Gee, my mellow
    It’s on to you so whatcha gonna do?

    Well, like Johnny Carson on the Late Show
    A like Frankie Crocker in stereo
    Well like the Barkay’s singin’ “Holy Ghost”
    The sounds to throw down, they’re played the most
    It’s like my man Captain Sky
    Whose name he earned with his super sperm
    We rock and we don’t stop
    Get off, y’all, I’m here to give you whatcha got
    To the beat that it makes you freak
    And come alive, girl, get on your feet
    A like a Perry Mason without a case
    Like Farrah Fawcett without her face
    Like the Barkays on the mic
    Like gettin’ down right for you tonight
    Like movin’ your body so you don’t know how
    Right to the rhythm and throw down
    Like comin’ alive to the Master Gee
    The brother who rocks so viciously
    I said the age of one, my life begun
    At the age of two I was doin’ the do
    At the age of three, it was you and me
    Rockin’ to the sounds of the Master Gee
    At the age of four, I was on the floor
    Givin’ all the freaks what they bargained for
    At the age of five I didn’t take no jive
    With the Master Gee it’s all the way live
    At the age of six I was a-pickin’ up sticks
    Rappin’ to the beat, my stick was fixed
    At the age of seven, I was rockin’ in heaven
    Don’tcha know I went off
    I gotta run on down to the beat you see
    Gettin’ right on down, makin’ all the girls
    Just take off their clothes to the beat the beat
    To the double beat beat that makes you freak
    At the age of eight, I was really great
    ‘Cause every night, you see, I had a date
    At the age of nine, I was right on time
    ‘Cause every night I had a party rhyme
    Going on’n’n’on’n’ on on’n’on
    The beat don’t stop until the break of dawn
    A sayin’ on’n’n’on’n’ on on’n’on
    Like a hot buttered de pop pop de popcorn…

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