Review: In The Heights, King’s Cross Theatre

“Well you must take the A Train
Even farther than Harlem 
To northern Manhattan and
maintain 
Get off at 181st, and
take the escalator 
I hope you’re writing this 
Down, I’m gonna test ya later” 

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s stock could not be higher with his new show Hamilton taking Broadway by storm so it’s an apposite time for this belated transfer of his earlier musical In The Heights, with book written by Quiara Alegría Hudes. Undoubtedly one of the best shows of 2014, Luke Sheppard’s production blew the roof off the Southwark Playhouse and is now poised to do the same at the King’s Cross Theatre with many of the original cast and creatives returning to give us a slice of life from the New York Hispanic community of Washington Heights. 

Nothing has been lost in the move, the whole production just sparks with vivid life. From takis’ effective sidewalk design (now with added movable fire escape) to the pure joy of Drew McOnie’s choreography, the reconfigured staging releases a newer, raw energy that blooms into the space. And with Gabriella Slade’s day-glo bright costumes, the vibrant splashes of Howard Hudson’s lighting and the crispness of Gareth Owen’s sound design, complemented well by Phil Cornwell’s musical direction, Sheppard keeps the show firing excitingly at full throttle throughout. Continue reading “Review: In The Heights, King’s Cross Theatre”

Winners of the 2015 Drama Desk Awards

Outstanding Play:
Clare Barron, You Got Older
Lisa D’Amour, Airline Highway
Anthony Giardina, The City of Conversation
Stephen Adly Guirgis, Between Riverside and Crazy
Elizabeth Irwin, My Manãna Comes
Simon Stephens, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Jack Thorne, Let the Right One In

Outstanding Musical:
An American in Paris
Hamilton
Fly By Night
Pretty Filthy
Something Rotten!
The Visit Continue reading “Winners of the 2015 Drama Desk Awards”

Winners of 2014-2015 Outer Critics Circle Awards

John Gassner Playwriting Award (Presented for an American play, preferably by a new playwright)
WINNER – Ayad Akhtar, The Invisible Hand
Halley Feiffer, I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard
Elizabeth Irwin, My Mañana Comes
Markus Potter, Stalking the Bogeyman
Benjamin Scheuer, The Lion

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Christian Borle, Something Rotten!
Brian d’Arcy James, Something Rotten!
WINNER – Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris
Peter Gallagher, On the Twentieth Century
Tony Yazbeck, On the Town Continue reading “Winners of 2014-2015 Outer Critics Circle Awards”

Winners of 2015 Lucille Lortel Awards

Outstanding Play
WINNER – Between Riverside and Crazy Produced by Atlantic Theater Company. Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) Produced by The Public Theater in association with American Repertory Theater. Written by Suzan-Lori Parks
The Invisible Hand Produced by New York Theatre Workshop. Written by Ayad Akhtar
My Mañana Comes Produced by The Playwrights Realm. Written by Elizabeth Irwin
The Nether Produced by MCC Theater. Written by Jennifer Haley

Outstanding Musical
The Fortress of Solitude Produced by The Public Theater in association with Dallas Theater Center. Book by Itamar Moses, Music and Lyrics by Michael Friedman. Conceived by Daniel Aukin, Based upon the novel by Jonathan Lethem
WINNER –Hamilton Produced by The Public Theater. Book, Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Inspired by the book Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
The Lightning Thief Produced by Theatreworks USA Music and Lyrics by Rob Rokicki, Book by Joe Tracz. Adapted from the book by Rick Riordan
Nevermore – The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe Produced by Radio Mouse Entertainment, Martin Hummel, Caiola Productions, Terry Schnuck, Susan Jaffe Tane, Hernreich-Horvath Productions, Catalyst Theatre in association with Fireboat Productions, Mary Cossette, Meredith Lynsey Schade. Written and Composed by Jonathan Christenson
Pretty Filthy Produced by The Civilians in association with Jon B. Platt Music and Lyrics by Michael Friedman, Book by Bess Wohl. Conceived by Steve Cosson, Michael Friedman & Bess Wohl Continue reading “Winners of 2015 Lucille Lortel Awards”

Nominations for the 2015 Drama Desk Awards

Outstanding Play:
Clare Barron, You Got Older
Lisa D’Amour, Airline Highway
Anthony Giardina, The City of Conversation
Stephen Adly Guirgis, Between Riverside and Crazy
Elizabeth Irwin, My Manãna Comes
Simon Stephens, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Jack Thorne, Let the Right One In

Outstanding Musical:
An American in Paris
Hamilton
Fly By Night
Pretty Filthy
Something Rotten!
The Visit Continue reading “Nominations for the 2015 Drama Desk Awards”

Nominations for 2014-2015 Outer Critics Circle Awards

John Gassner Playwriting Award (Presented for an American play, preferably by a new playwright)
Ayad Akhtar, The Invisible Hand
Halley Feiffer, I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard
Elizabeth Irwin, My Mañana Comes
Markus Potter, Stalking the Bogeyman
Benjamin Scheuer, The Lion

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Christian Borle, Something Rotten!
Brian d’Arcy James, Something Rotten!
Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris
Peter Gallagher, On the Twentieth Century
Tony Yazbeck, On the Town Continue reading “Nominations for 2014-2015 Outer Critics Circle Awards”

Nominations for 2015 Lucille Lortel Awards

Outstanding Play
Between Riverside and Crazy Produced by Atlantic Theater Company. Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) Produced by The Public Theater in association with American Repertory Theater. Written by Suzan-Lori Parks
The Invisible Hand Produced by New York Theatre Workshop. Written by Ayad Akhtar
My Mañana Comes Produced by The Playwrights Realm. Written by Elizabeth Irwin
The Nether Produced by MCC Theater. Written by Jennifer Haley

Outstanding Musical
The Fortress of Solitude Produced by The Public Theater in association with Dallas Theater Center. Book by Itamar Moses, Music and Lyrics by Michael Friedman. Conceived by Daniel Aukin, Based upon the novel by Jonathan Lethem
Hamilton Produced by The Public Theater. Book, Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Inspired by the book Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
The Lightning Thief Produced by Theatreworks USA Music and Lyrics by Rob Rokicki, Book by Joe Tracz. Adapted from the book by Rick Riordan
Nevermore – The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe Produced by Radio Mouse Entertainment, Martin Hummel, Caiola Productions, Terry Schnuck, Susan Jaffe Tane, Hernreich-Horvath Productions, Catalyst Theatre in association with Fireboat Productions, Mary Cossette, Meredith Lynsey Schade. Written and Composed by Jonathan Christenson
Pretty Filthy Produced by The Civilians in association with Jon B. Platt Music and Lyrics by Michael Friedman, Book by Bess Wohl. Conceived by Steve Cosson, Michael Friedman & Bess Wohl Continue reading “Nominations for 2015 Lucille Lortel Awards”

Re-review: In The Heights, Southwark Playhouse

“Since when are Latin people scared of heat?”

I can’t remember the exact moment when I knew I would book to see In The Heights again but it would definitely be somewhere in the first 10 minutes of watching it the first time. There was a certain amount of expectation resting on the shoulders of this production – the show was brand new to me but it was impossible to ignore the excitement of those were previously familiar with it – and so I had a little trepidatious fear that I might be swimming against the tide with this one. But I could not have been more wrong – as my original review will attest – and so I nabbed a pair of tickets for the final week within minutes of getting home!

There isn’t really too much more to say about the show than to commend it for maintaining such a magnificent level of energy throughout its run, it feels as fresh and punchy as it did last time and that is no mean feat with such a physically demanding piece as this. There’s a wonderfully teasing note on their website which says sign up here to be kept informed of the future of this production and it would be a well-deserved success for all concerned if a transfer was secured. I really hope they find a space suitable though, as whilst many may cry ‘it should be in the West End’, so much of its unique joy comes from the intimacy of this studio configuration.  

Review: In The Heights, Southwark Playhouse

 
“My mom is Dominican-Cuban
My dad is from Chile and PR which means
I’m Chile..Domini-curican!
But I always say I’m from Queens!”

Amid the crashing and burning of ill-conceived big budget West End shows, it has been left to the smaller venues of London to carry the torch for musical theatre in the capital and currently leading the charge with what will surely end up being one of the productions of the year is the Southwark Playhouse. They secured the UK premiere of Tony winning show In The Heights which in itself is an achievement but more importantly, they assembled a team who have expertly reconceived it for the relatively intimate space to create some explosively exciting theatre.

Luke Sheppard’s production is pitch-perfect on every level. The choreography – Drew McOnie deserves every prize going – is fearless, fast and furious, Latin influences married with contemporary movement to create something that feels incredibly organic in its fluidity; Howard Hudson’s lighting is full of vibrant splashes of colour and well evokes the near-unbearable heat; and takis’ set design maximises the space brilliantly, suggesting the communal spirit and run-down feel of a hard-done-by enclave yet also finding room for a band of 8 along with a cast of 17. Continue reading “Review: In The Heights, Southwark Playhouse”

Nominations for the 2013 Drama Desk Awards

Outstanding Play
Annie Baker, The Flick
Christopher Durang, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Joe Gilford, Finks
Richard Greenberg, The Assembled Parties
Amy Herzog, Belleville
Deanna Jent, Falling
Richard Nelson, Sorry

Outstanding Musical
A Christmas Story: The Musical
Giant
Hands on a Hardbody
Here Lies Love
Matilda
Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
The Other Josh Cohen
Continue reading “Nominations for the 2013 Drama Desk Awards”