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31Mar

In the Heights - Clarksburg High School - Clarksburg, Maryland - March 24, 2017

Emma Shacochis

Oakton High School

 

In Washington Heights, money may be tight, but the music shines and bursts like fireworks on the Fourth of July! Clarksburg High School's production of In the Heights is as sweet as piragua on a hot summer day.

 

In the Heights opened on Broadway in 2008, where it collected four Tony awards, including Best Musical. Featuring music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, the show ran on Broadway for four years and has toured worldwide. Set in a Latin-American neighborhood in Washington Heights, the summer tale follows a vibrant and close-knit community over three days as they face closing businesses, winning lottery tickets, and sweltering July heat.

 

Carlos Hernandez takes on the role of Usnavi, a bodega owner at the center of el barrio. He energetically serves up café con leche and scolds his younger cousin, as well as rapping at an impressive pace. In "Alabanza", after he experiences a heartbreaking loss, Hernandez beautifully performs a tearful and eloquent eulogy.

 

Vanessa, a resident of the neighborhood who is searching for a way out, is played with determination and spirit by Lady Marien Marasigan. She nails her number, "It Won't Be Long Now", with a brazen strut and powerful voice.

 

Also excellent is Kyra Allen as Abuela Claudia, the matriarch of everyone on the block. Allen is moving and sentimental in "Paciencia y Fe", where she reflects on her childhood immigration.

 

Kevin and Camila Rosario, played by Maanav Goyal and Olivia Luzquinos, as Puerto Rican immigrant who built a strong business, are charming together, and shine equally in their solos: Goyal's "Inutil", where Goyal laments the feeling of failing his family, and Luzquinos' "Enough", where Luzquinos finally expresses her anger at being put second to the needs of her husband and daughter.

 

The ensemble fills each scene with background chatting and joking with one another, as if they have lived in the same neighborhood all their lives. In "Alabanza", when the entire barrio experiences a loss, the way they lean against one another in comfort only strengthens the sense of community.

 

Praises are to be given to the team of five ASL interpreters, who translated the entire show with as much energy and character as if they were onstage.

 

The set – a street corner with its salon, bodega, dispatch station, and apartments – is artfully spray-painted with stray song lyrics. Natalie Matthews' beautiful lighting includes warm yellows and oranges to show the summer sunrises and sunsets, and tiny chandeliers that illuminate as fireworks during the number "Blackout".

 

The choreography, arranged by JeanPaul Garmes, Abby Thomas, and Jayma Fletcher, is executed with pep and precision by the ensemble's specialty dancers. Especially in large-cast numbers such as "Carnival del Barrio", their hip-hop and salsa inspired dance moves shine.

 

Clarksburg High School has taken sweet music and a winning cast of characters and added their own heartwarming, dynamic touches. They will have you loving your trip "In the Heights".

 


Sarah DeLeonibus

Bullis School

 

Miniskirts, graffiti and unconditional love, all prevalent aspects of the barrio, but Clarksburg High School's breathed new energy and spunk into the Lin Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegria Hudes' In the Heights. In the Heights, Manuel's first smash hit follows the stories and relationships of multiple vibrant Latin American characters growing up in Washington Heights. It accounts for their struggles, their accomplishments, their relationships and most importantly pays tribute to the Immigrant story that has shaped the United States throughout centuries.

 

Usnavi, our protagonist, was played by Carlos Hernandez who brilliantly embodied the lovable awkwardness of the character original played by Lin Manuel Miranda. He also established a clear and believable relationship with his love interest, Vanessa. The dynamic and wander-lusting Vanessa was played by Lady Marien Marasigan, who portrayed her character with sass, spunk and vulnerability. While showing off her impressive vocals, Marasigan also proved to be a triple threat, dancing and acting with complete commitment. Another established relationship was between Nina Rosario, played by Griffin Hellebuyck, and Benny, played by Saidou Sosseh. Their sweet yet dynamic relationship and impressive vocals had the audience rooting for them the entire time. Some more standout smaller parts were Mateo Ferro who played Sonny with impeccable comedic timing and believable dramatic moments. Maddi Bard (Daniela) and Sydney Farrington (Carla) were a dynamic duo who consistently had the audience laughing. Ricky Cardenas, who played Piragua guy, was especially memorable with his character despite limited stage time.

 

The ensemble was extremely impressive for a high school show. Each person in the cast, whether in a group song or just background individuals, had dynamic characters they were committed to. Dancing and singing was also strong in the ensemble. Some standouts were Abby Thomas and JeanPaul Garmes who consistently danced with purpose, character and style.

 

Tech was also extremely strong for this show. The set showed remarkable attention to detail and the lighting was carefully thought out to be consistent and stylized and was extremely impressive with its establishment of silhouettes. Sound was relatively strong with only a few minor mishaps. The costumes were consistent yet distinguishable and gave every person on stage his own style.

 

The energy, accents, choreography, vocals and establishment of relationships made the show believable, fun and especially heartbreaking at the end. The obvious attention to detail in all aspects and infectious energy helped create a truly entertaining show that made audience members feel like they too lived and struggled in the barrio. Clarksburg's production of In the Heights was extremely impressive for a high school show. 

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