Touring company of “In the Heights” smashes into Shea’s Buffalo for a three day run

A fast-paced, moving, funny, and internationally flavoured story of a Washington heights’ city block and the multi-layred characters who live, learn, and hope for patience and faith…”Paciencia y Fe.”  Shea’s Buffalo, a beautiful old-world theater that immediately transports the audience to another time and another place, got rocked last night, as the Latino/Domenicana flavour of south America gave the cold crisp air, so many Buffalonians are used to, a sizzle caliente.

Kyle Beltran and the cast of “In the Heights”

“In the Heights” is a catalogue of styles:  rap, salsa, rumba, ballad, hip-hop, rock, and romantic duets, and in them this touring company made Shea’s its own, and how.  The set is exciting and yet somewhere familiar that we’ve all been at one time or another; the characters, we’ve all known them at one time or another in our own lives; the story, one of immigrant desires and dreams for the next generation to achieve success and happiness.  Overall, the score is a good one, with lots of variety and only a few moments that could have been a little more enticing.  Orchestrally, the pit band/orchestra was well-balanced and colourful, if not a little drum and bass heavy at times.  In order to add to the latino flavour a little more, one might have used flamenco guitar and more brass, but the music still did not lack flavour.

Last night’s cast had a number of bright lights.  In the role of Usnavi, Kyle Beltran rapped expertly, giving us ever word, every consonant, and every vowel.  I did not miss one thing he said…true talent from this young man with great stage presence.  A fine representation from David Baida who played “Piragua.”  His lyric tenor reminded one of old-time broadway singers that truly understood the meaning of a line.  Bravo. Abuela Claudia was played by Elise Santora, who moved with her portrayal and connected with all of us.  We all felt like her grandchildren by the end.

Elise Santora and Arielle Jacobs

In the role of Daniela, the illustrious hairdresser, the outstanding presence of April Ortiz, who not only sang with conviction and guts, she was like a latino-Lucille Ball, giving us a true character.  The real definition of a singer is one who can project their character and text such that you begin to believe that the only way in which they can express is through the singing voice alone.  Ms. Ortiz showed herself to be a true artistic force. Brava.

April Ortiz

Nina’s mother and father, Kevin and Camila were well portrayed by Daniel Bolero and Natalie Toro.  The role of Vanessa belonged to another bright light, Sabrina Sloan, who exhibited powerful vocal ability, flexibility, range, and the balance between an edgier sound to a softer more lyrical approach.  She is one to watch in the future and has a lovely presence on-stage.

Sabrina Sloan

In the role of Nina, Arielle Jacobs was moving and portrayed the innocent side of Nina’s character well, if she was not a bit lacking in the more rebellious side of her persona.  The voice is lovely and well-trained but could often use more of an edge in the more exposed sections.  Her most powerful contribution was her monologue, “Everything I know.”  Brava.

Arielle Jacobs

A fine mention to Shaun Taylor-Corbett in the role of Sunny and Genny Lis Padilla in the role of Carla.

Finally, but not least, in the role of Benny, the exciting young talent of Rogelio Douglas Jr. who truly shone as this young man who fell in love with his bosses daughter.  The love story was somewhat believable, but the singing between Nina and Benny was what truly inspired.  Mr. Douglas sang in more styles than anyone else in the cast and to expert design.  His presence was soft, stoic, and he portrayed Benny as the kind of guy you want to be friends with.

Rogelio Douglas Jr.

This is a different kind of broadway show because of the diversity of its styles, but it certainly didn’t bore.  Bravo to the touring cast!  Thanks for coming to Buffalo.

Visit the Official Site here

For tour dates click here

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