On Thursday, February 16, the Blair Academy Players will put on a performance in the making since the start of the athletic season: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights. The show features the incredible music and storytelling that made his latest musical, Hamilton, a mind-blowing success, and, more importantly, showcases the talent of Blair Academy’s own performers. The set, a minimalistic street corner in northern Manhattan, is a beautiful testament to the hard work and dedication of the tech crew, who have been hard at work along with the show’s amazing cast since November.
The official subtitle for the four-time Tony winning In the Heights is a simple one: “A New Musical.” The show is, in essence, a contemporary piece. It depicts a neighborhood of lovers and dreamers, young and old, with experiences and hopes that transcend ideas of race and ethnicity. The music, fusing elements of rap and hip-hop with Latin-American salsa and jazz, is an upbeat and lively recipe that is sure to get you moving on a cold February night.
The story follows the goings-on in the poor and largely Latin American neighborhood of Washington Heights. The audience first meets Usnavi (played by Ernesto Lippert ’18), an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who runs a small bodega with his cousin, Sonny (Emmila Hastings ’17). He dreams, however, of one day returning to the beaches of his home country.
Also the subject of his attention is Vanessa (Siena Tipton ’18), who works at the local hair salon with coworkers Daniela (Audrey Sacks ’20) and Carla (Lily Petrucelli ’19), but dreams of moving downtown. The story also follows Nina (Alex Kirby ’20), a girl admired by everyone as “the one who made it out,” back from her first year in college to see her parents, Kevin (Matthew Bottone ’19) and Camila (Emily Lunger ’17). Nina also has a special interest in Benny (Charlie Stafford ’17), one of Kevin’s employees who dreams of one day starting his own business. Interacting with everyone is Abuela Claudia (Olivia McLaine ’20) the loving matriarch of the neighborhood, as well as the local piragua vendor (Ryan Gomez ’20) and a graffiti artist (Chinonso Chima-Anyanka ’17).
The cast, crew, and directors (including student director Emma Mohlmann ’18) have been hard at work for months—work that will all amount to just three nights: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, February 16-18 at 7:30 PM in Dubois Auditorium. If you are looking for some heat and spirit on a freezing winter night, be sure to join the cast and crew for a stellar display of music and dance in Blair Academy’s performance of In the Heights.
(Copyright 2017 Ernesto Lippert)