Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Final In The Heights: A Celebration

(We are family!)

It's been a busy week, so I didn't get a chance to really write about my experience at the final performance of In The Heights on Sunday Night. It really could not have been a more perfect final performance. The cast was so focused on and so on point. The audience was completely out of its collective mind. There were so many friends, so many fans, so many former cast members in the audience. Heights has always been a family and Sunday was when we all got together to share (and scream) our love and appreciation for the show before the final curtain fell.

It was a tremendous celebration. The feeling in the theater was electric. The audience erupted into standing ovations multiple times throughout the show, including after musical numbers "96,000," “Paciencia y Fe," and act two show-stopper and personal fave "Carnaval Del Barrio" with Andrea Burns as Daniela receiving extended applause from the audience almost before the song had even begun! All the cast members had a moment throughout the performance to be showered with applause by the crowd. The biggest applause might have come right at the top of the show when LMM first entered the stage before the opening number. His back was to the audience for several minutes of cheering, but even if he could not see the outpouring of love and appreciation, we were gonna make damn sure that he could feel it.

Being in the audience felt like a cross between being at a stadium rock concert and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The were many moments of audience participation and people shouting musical responses and clapping along to the beat of the up-tempo score. During the nightclub number “Blackout” at the end of Act One, many audience members, in a moment of solidarity with the actors, flashed the lights from their cell phones to help cut through the darkness, mimicking the characters’ actions on stage. The effect throughout the theater was striking. Former cast members sang along and waved flags from their seats. It was a huge party and all the while the actors on stage kept things moving and nailed every moment. Like I said before, it was perfect.

I was so happy and so proud of everyone on stage. Earlier in the day, I had taken out my original script pages from the original little scene reading in the '92 theater at Wes back from 1999 (I save a lot of script stuff) and to think that all of this art and all this inspiration and all this talent and love, this huge extended family was born out of something that started with just a couple cream-colored pages, a couple snippets of songs. It really boggles my mind. I wrote on my FB status on Monday that I would love In The Heights forever and it's true. It's been a tremendous journey and a stunning triumph for people I love dearly. I'm so happy to have been able to witness so much of what went on. It constantly inspires me to pursue my own art and my own dreams. The show has captured my imagination for my entire adult life. I'm so glad millions of people have been affected and inspired by it and will continue to be for years and years to come.

There are some fun audio and video clips online that give a taste of what it was like inside the Richard Rodgers on Sunday evening. I leave you with a link to the audio of Carnaval del Barrio. It's performance on Sunday was nothing short of a religious experience. It gives you a good sense of how raucous the audience got during many of the musical numbers. You can find the bootleg here. Also below is the final curtain call and speech by LMM. He improvised the whole thing and was awesome about it.
Congrats again to everyone for their stunning achievement. See you at the revival. :)

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