“So turn up the stage lights/ We’re takin’ a flight/ To a couple of days/ In the life of what it’s like/ In Washington Heights!”
This is exactly what everyone experienced if they went to go see the production of In the Heights at Mercer’s own Grand Opera House. The Broadway touring company took the Macon stage by storm on the evening of Jan. 25.
In the Heights tells a universal story of a colorful community in Manhattan’s Washington Heights, “a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music.”
The music ranges from Hip-Hop to R&B all the way to Salsa. The Hispanic roots of the musical stay true to the story as well as the music. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who originally wrote the musical while in college at Wesleyan University, used stories from his own bodega to visualize and bring the musical to life.
After a long Off-Broadway run, the show finally moved to Broadway in 2008. It was here where the concept was completely brought together garnering it the highest prestige in theatre, a Tony Award for Best Musical. The show was headlined by its writer and concept creator Lin-Manuel Miranda himself. The Broadway show played to sold out crowds and received fantastic reviews and feedback.
The troupe at the Grand Opera House was received no differently than the exceptional reviews that the Broadway Company obtained. The show had its mixture of upbeat songs like “96,000” and “Carnival del Barrio” to the heart-wrenching performances like “Alabanza” and “Everything I Know.”
Each cast member had their own specific niche, and they each brought something different to the table theatrically. Whether their specific talent was singing or dancing, each individual cast member helped bring the show to life in front of the eyes of hundreds of audience members. One voice that stood out in particular was that of Presilah NuÑez who played the role of Vanessa, the out of luck girl that was trying to make it out of her neighborhood. Her voice was spectacular in her first song “It Won’t Be Long Now” as well as when she was featured in “96,000.” Another performance that stood out among others was that of Christina Aranda, who played the loving and affectionate Abuela Claudia. Abuela Claudia is the matriarch of the neighborhood, truly being a parental figure to all of the children who live on the block. Her heart-wrenching rendition of “Paciencia y Fe” was one that was a pleasure to behold.
Overall, the performance was one that brought people to tears as well as one that made people keel over with laughter, but most importantly it was a show with a message. Abuela Claudia said it best, “Paciencia y Fe” which translates to “Patience and Faith.” With these two things one can overcome any trying time.
The next show to play at the Grand Opera House is “Rock of Ages,” a story of a small town girl moving to Los Angeles. “Rock of Ages” a hilarious, feel-good, rock-n-roll love story told through the mind blowing, face-melting hits of Journey, Night Ranger, Styx, Reo Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted, Poison, Asia, Whitesnake and many more. So, all of you Rock and Roll fans can buy your tickets at the Mercer Box Office or at thegrandmacon.com.