Up at the break of day
I wake up and I got this little punk I gotta chase away
Pop the grate at the crack of dawn
Sing while I wipe down the awning
Hey y'all, Good morning!
So begins "In The Heights", the 2008 Tony-winning Broadway musical, gingerly but decisively setting the scene and bringing the audience into its world. It's a bold open for this groundbreaking show, since many audience members are surprised by the nakedness - the main character, Usnavi, is talking directly to us, rapping to very little music, and it's a bit startling. But by the time the music builds and more characters join in verse, you're there with them in Washington Heights. It's one of those opening numbers that actually gives you chills, if done well.
Luckily, the new production at Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre (WST) is indeed done well. With a cast of mainly Latino actors (thank goodness), this regional production of "In The Heights" impressed me in many ways, and almost made me stop thinking about the Broadway production.
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