Tuesday, May 16, 2017



If you want a main course of community and diversity, with a heaping side order of salsa, you only need to look for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s spicy Latino flavored “In the Heights.” As a Puerto Rican-American composer, rapper, lyricist and actor, Miranda calls the musical his first theatrical event.  Written while a sophomore at Wesleyan University in Middletown, he penned it as an on campus project that launched him into a career that has since peaked with his recent success with “Hamilton,”  What will he do to top that?

" In the Heights” celebrates life in the Washington Heights section of New York City and Miranda wants audiences to “walk away dancing” and the current production by the Main Stage Theatre at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre until Sunday, May 21 guarantees that and much, much more.

This culture fest features Marcelo Calderon as Usnavi, an all around good guy who owns a small bodega and has a secret crush on Vanessa, a sweet faced Olivia Grace Rivera, who works at the neighboring hair salon.  Usnavi has been raised by Abuela Claudia, a dedicated Celia Ortiz, who has been like a grandmother to him and his wise-cracking cousin Sonny, a challenging Joe Cardozo.  Life is not easy in the barrio, but it is filled with colorful characters who put their faces up to the sun and pray for better times.

Right now the pride of the neighborhood Nina, a conflicted Jessica Paige Braun, has returned from college in California, with the burden of telling her loving parents, played by Perry Liu and Julie Bell Petrak, that she has lost her scholarship and dropped out of Stanford.  Nina finds comfort and care from Benny, a hard working Everton Ricketts, who is employed by her parents but not accepted by them as a proper suitor.

In the midst of this hot summer, on the eve of the fourth of July, two major events take place that are sure to change many lives.  Come see for yourself in this energetic and enthusiastic cast, led by director Christy McIntosh-Newsom and musical director and producing artistic director Eli Newsom and choreographer Emily Frangipane.  Catch the Latino flavor at its spicy best.

For tickets ($28-33), call the Downtown Cabaret Main Stage Theatre, 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport at 203-576-1636 or online at www.ctcab.com.  Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.

The magic of Lin-Manuel Miranda is evident from the first merry note to the final redeeming dance of joy.  This cast of thirty gives the show 110% wattage power and shines.

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