“In The Heights,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Broadway smash, is for many people every bit as uniquely American as “Hamilton.”
Miranda’s 2009 musical about a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, “In The Heights” opens Friday night at Albany’s Park Playhouse and runs through July 27. While “In The Heights” won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical and was a huge commercial success for Miranda, it didn’t quite match the playwright’s more recent smash, “Hamilton,” the winner of 11 Tonys. That show is at Proctors in Schenectady later this summer (Aug. 13-25).
“This show was Lin-Manuel Miranda’s breakout success as a lyricist and composer before ‘Hamilton,’” said Park Playhouse artistic producer Owen Smith. “We’re thrilled to have Michael LoPorto, a Park Playhouse veteran, as director and delighted with the amazing cast and crew assembled. The magic of Park Playhouse continues in Washington Park this summer with ‘In The Heights.’”
Included in the creative team with LoPorto are music director Brian Axford and choreographers Ashley-Simone Kircher and Joey Rosario.
Playing the female lead in “In The Heights” will be Loudonville’s Ariana Papaleo, a Holy Names graduate and currently a student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in Drama. Papaleo is a veteran of Park Playhouse productions, having performed in “The Little Mermaid,” “Oliver,” “The Pajama Game,” “Ragtime” and “Shrek the Musical.”
“In The Heights” is set over the course of three days in Washington Heights, a largely Hispanic neighborhood in New York City. It was nominated for 13 Tony Awards, and won for Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations. It also won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Sharing the stage with Papaleo will be Adam James King as Usnavi, the play’s narrator and a major character in the show. Usnavi was played by Miranda in the show’s original off-Broadway and Broadway productions.
Papaleo, meanwhile, plays Nina, the first in her family to go to college. She is admired by everyone in the neighborhood for being the one who “made it out,” of the neighborhood, but when she returns home from Stanford University for the summer, she informs her parents that she has dropped out of school.
Nina’s boyfriend is Benny, played by Devin Cortez, who is returning to Park Playhouse for his third summer, having played Joe Hardy in “Damn Yankees,” as well as roles in “The Pajama Game” and “Singin’ in the Rain.” He is the only character in “In The Heights” who can not speak Spanish.
Also in the cast are Luis Herrera, Brandon Jones, Joyel Kaleel and Tara Kostmayer.
Park Playhouse will also offer a production of “Beauty and the Beast’ at the Cohoes Music Hall, July 30-Aug. 3, along with three weeks of “Newsies” back at Washington Park Aug. 6-24.
ALICE AND SHERLOCK
The Adirondack Theatre Festival in Glens Falls and The Theater Barn in New Lebanon will have shows up and running this weekend.
At the Charles R. Wood Theater in Glens Falls, ATF will mount a production of “Alice in Wonderland” for children 12 and under Thursday and Friday at noon, and will repeat the performance July 16-20. ATF’s season includes a week-long run of “The Enlightenment of Percival Von Schmootz,” July 5-13. In that cast will be Niskayuna’s Cathryn Wake, fresh from her Broadway performance in “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.”
In New Lebanon, Matthew Tyler plays Sherlock Holmes and Cohoes’ Aaron Holbritter is Doctor Watson in Ken Ludwig’s “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mysery,” Thursday through Sunday. Also in the production is Saratoga Springs’ Ryan Palmer.
'In The Heights'
WHERE: Park Playhouse, Albany's Washington Park
WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through July 27; performances are Tuesday through Sunday at 8 p.m.
HOW MUCH: Lawn seating is free; for reserved tickets call (518) 434-0776
MORE INFO: Visit www.parkplayhouse.com
'Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mysery'
WHERE: The Theater Barn, 654 Route 20, New Lebanon
WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $29-$27
MORE INFO: Visit www.thetheaterbarn.org, or call (518) 794-8989