The 2008 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, and 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner for Drama, In the Heights, has been selected for this year’s VHS musical theatre production. A unique blend of traditional Broadway fare, rap and salsa, the show, as one of its lyrics says, "lights up the night sky."
The show is set in the Washington Heights area of New York, a Latino barrio, with Dominican, Puerto Rican and Cuban residents. The New York Times theatre critic Christopher Isherwood wrote: As you watch ‘Usnavi’ bound jubilantly across the stage, tossing out the rhymed verse currently known as rap like fistfuls of flowers, you might find yourself imagining that this young man is music personified - a sprightly new Harold Hill from the barrio, where this sweet, sentimental musical is set...when this musical erupts in one of its expressions of collective joy, the energy it gives off could light up the George Washington bridge for a year or two.’
Probably the most challenging show VHS Drama has undertaken since Chicago in 2007, the story centers around Usnavi, the owner of a small bodega, Nina, the daughter of the Rosarios, Vanessa, a hairdresser, Abuela Claudia, everyone’s unofficial grandmother, and Benny, who works for Nina’s father. Usnavi dreams of selling the bodega and going to the Dominican Republic, the home of his late parents. He also secretly is in love with Vanessa (in one of the songs, the other women in the beauty salon say to her, "haven’t you noticed you get all your coffee for free?") Nina has returned to New York from California. The one who "made it out" of the barrio and got into Stanford, she has dropped out of school. Nina hasn’t told her parents, who spent their life savings so she could attend college. Benny, a dispatcher for the Rosario taxi service, is in love with Nina.
In the end, the show is all about how a person defines "home." Is home where your parents came from when they immigrated to the United States, but a place you’ve never seen? Is home the barrio? Is home a place you can only dream of?
Stephen Floyd and Susan Hanson are co-directing and producing the show. Maggie Laird is the musical director, and Sarah Seder is the choreographer. The show opens on March 8th and runs for three weekends, closing on Sunday, March 24th. Evening performance tickets: Adults $20/Students & Seniors $15. Sunday matinee tickets: all seats $12. The first Saturday, March 9th, is a benefit for the Junior Class, all seats $20 (includes a dessert buffet and silent auction). The second Saturday, March 16th, is ‘Rotary Night,’ all seats $20 (a portion of the proceeds benefits Rotary service projects). Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 pm. Sunday matinees are at 2:00 pm. Tickets at the Vashon Bookshop, VHS office and at the door.