Friday, October 8, 2010

Show #53 "In the Heights" at the 5th Avenue Theatre technically, this isn't the "local theatre," that my blog endeavors to cheer on and support. This is a national touring company with mostly New York-based actors performing in it, just like the production of "South Pacific" that I viewed earlier this year.

Although it may not qualify as a local production, it certainly qualifies as good theatre. Here's why.

First, this is an innovative show. I have to admit, when it comes to the genre of musical theatre, I am somewhat of an old hat. I like the traditional stuff I grew up watching. Thus explains my enthusiasm and pure joy while watching "South Pacific."

But "In the Heights" even had a traditionalist like me in awe. Imagine using a seamless blend of Latin salsa and hip-hop (in both the songs and the choreography) to tell an urban story of poverty, struggle and hope. Did it work? You bet it did.

Second, this is a show that celebrates a part of our ethnic landscape that is under-represented. I guess Rodgers and Hammerstein never got around to writing their Latino masterpiece...? So, while we Asians have our "Flower Drum Song" and "The King & I" (whose cultural authenticity is deeply in question, but that is the subject of another blog posting!), "In the Heights" is a beautiful and high-voltage testament to our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters.

Well...okay, the Latino's were half of the cast in "West Side Story," but nevertheless, this was a rare theatrical treat for me.

And finally, this show represents the wave of the future for American Musical Theatre. It's hip. It's high energy. It showcases stories from actors of color (No, we don't have to "give Iowa a try"). It's fast-paced, non-stop entertaining story-telling.

In other words, this is theatre the next generation can embrace. With local theatre audiences made up of mostly middle-aged and elderly patrons, this is great news. It gives me hope.

Even after us old cronies pass on, theatre will live on.

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