Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

In the Heights

Posted on

Corbin Bleu and the cast of In the Heights
Joan Marcus

In the Heights

type:
Stage
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
02/14/08
performer:
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Priscilla Lopez
director:
Thomas Kail
author:
Quiara Alegria Hudes, Lin-Manuel Miranda

We gave it a B+

We know, we know: Corbin Bleu — the new star of the Tony-winning Latino-in-Manhattan musical In the Heights — is not Latino. He’s Jamaican-American and Italian-American. And he’s a Disney commodity, famous for playing Zac Efron’s BFF in the High School Musical movies (which probably irks some people even more than the whole ethnicity issue). But if creator-composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda gave Bleu his blessing to play Dominican-born bodega owner Usnavi — a role Miranda originated — why dwell on a casting technicality? Especially when Bleu is so gosh-darn charming. He sings, dances, and raps with ease — and, most importantly, he looks like the kind of guy who checks in on his aged abuela (Olga Merediz) five or six times a day.

Heights isn’t what you’d call a hard-hitting musical: In the opening number, Usnavi spends some eight minutes dispensing café con leche, lottery tickets, and subway directions. But it’s our first look at Anna Louizos’ shabby-chic set, and Andy Blankenbuehler’s modern dance-meets-MTV choreography. And it’s our first taste of Miranda’s eclectic score, an irresistible fusion of salsa, hip-hop, jazz, and good old-fashioned Broadway razzmatazz. Those first eight minutes tell us exactly what Heights is — an irresistible, unapologetic good time. B+

(Tickets: Ticketmaster.com or 877-250-2929)

Comments