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In the Heights

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In The Heights: Joan Marcus

As light and saccharine as the café con leche that fuels its diverse mix of characters, In the Heights, composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new show at 37 Arts Theatre, is a musical valentine to New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood. Fueled by an exuberant mix of hip-hop, salsa, and good old-fashioned Broadway belting, the modern-day immigrant tale centers on bodega owner Usnavi (Miranda, adroitly pulling triple duty) as he and his limber-limbed friends and customers try to navigate life, love, and the lotto during one particularly steamy Independence Day weekend in the barrio. Just don’t expect any real infelicidad from this wholesome crew: Miranda’s New Yorkers inhabit a world seemingly free of crime, violence, and the homeless, and Anna Louizo’s intricate set (a loving recreation of the 181st Street subway corner) looks like a Disney-fied version of up-uptown. But between the energetic, effortless performances by the talented cast and Miranda’s smart sensibility, Heights is worth the trip. B+
(Tickets: 212-307-4100 or Ticketmaster.com)