C O N N E C T I C U T --- A R T S --- C O N N E C T I O N
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Feature: In the Heights at the Bushnell
Elise Santora, left, and Arielle Jacobs
Washington Heights Meets Hartford By Lauren Yarger Washington Heights and some rhythms and beats not typical for a Broadway musical come to Hartford tonight as the tour of the Tony-award-winning musical In the Heights takes the stage at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, not far from where Lin-Manual Miranda conceived the work when he was a sophomore at Wesleyan University.
The story is familiar: the hopes and dreams of members of a community amidst their struggles to fit in and find a place to call home, but this story is set to the salsa, merengue and hip-hop sounds that flow in the Latino upper Manhattan neighborhood where Miranda grew up. His score and the book by Quiara Alegría Hudes give the members of the first major Latino Broadway tour a sense of pride and belonging, said Elise Santora, who plays Abuela Claudia, the character who is the heart of the show.
“We’re all grateful to be in it,” she said.
Santora joined the tour directly from the Broadway company where she played Abuela and Daniela. (The show continues to play on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.) Santora has enjoyed making Abuela “her own” in the tour, which has been playing to standing ovations and enthusiastic responses, especially from younger audience members.
Younger kids are telling her they were “dragged” to the show, Santora said, but ended up thinking it is “cool.” Even those who might be surprised by the different style of music soon find themselves engrossed because the music is so intertwined with the story, which is universal, she said.
Santora and other Spanish speaking members of the cast have been part of special marketing campaigns along the tour route to reach out to Latinos. Here in Hartford, in an effort to help promote and spread the word about the show to the Latino community, the Bushnell has been working with Mega Education (a media-based scholastic incentive system designed to reward student efforts and achievement), Identidad Latina, La Voz Hispana, Telemundo and Univision, according to Amanda Savio Guay, communications manager.
The show also has some other Connecticut roots besides its inception at Wesleyan. In 2005, it was presented at the National Music Theater Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in Waterford, two years before an Off-Broadway incarnation that ran for 200 performances.
After its move to Broadway in 2008, the show won four Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations. Meanwhile, Universal Pictures has announced plans to adapt In The Heights as a feature film. Miranda and Meryl Poster, who executive produced the film Chicago, will produce. Hudes will pen the screenplay.
In The Heights, directed by Thomas Kail, plays at The Bushnell Jan. 5-10. The show features Tony-nominated scenic design (Anna Louizos), costumes (Paul Tazewell), lighting (Howell Binkley), and sound (Acme Sound Partners). For a preview clip, visit http://www.bushnell.org/.
Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 7:30 pm and Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm. Tickets are $15-$72 and are on sale now by visiting http://www.bushnell.org/, calling (860) 987-5900, or at The Bushnell Box Office at 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford. Tickets for groups of 20 or more are available by calling (860) 987-5959.
Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)
Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.”
Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.
She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/. She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), CT Press Club's award winner of first place for web editing and second place in feature writing for the web in 2012.
She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web. Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle (awards committee).
A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.
HARTFORD STAGE Abundance April 4-28 Twelfth Night May 18-June 16
THEATERWORKS The Mountaintop April 4-May 12, 2013 Dr. Ruth, All the Way May 31-July 7 Times Stands Still Aug. 9-Sept. 15, 2013
YALE REPERTORY In a Year with 13 Moons April 26-May 18
LONG WHARF THEATRE Clybourne Park May 8-June 2 A Couple of Blaguards May 21-June 2
GOODSPEED OPERA HOUSE Good News April 12-June 22 Hello, Dolly! June 28-Sept. 8 The Most Happy Fella Sept. 20-Dec. 1
NORMA TERRIS THEATRE (Developmental Goodspeed) The Fabulous Lipitones May 9-June 2 LMNOPJuly 25-Aug. 18 Snapshots Oct. 24-Nov. 17
WESTPORT COUNTRY PLAYHOUSE The Dining Room April 30-May 18 The Show-Off June 11-29 Loot July 16-Aug. 3 Oblivion Aug. 20-Sept. 7 Room Service Oct. 8-26, 2013
THE BUSHNELL Looped May 7-12 Catch Me If You Can May 28- June 2 Billy Elliot June 18-23
THE PALACE THEATER Dreamgirls May 31 & June 1 Jersey Boys October 2013
IVORYTON PLAYHOUSE Other People's Money April 17-May 5 I'm Connecticut June 5-23 Footloose July 3-28 Dream Girls Aug. 7-Sept. 1 I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change Sept. 25-Oct. 13 The Seven-Year Itch October 3-Nov. 17
SEVEN ANGELS THEATER Next to Normal May 9-June 9
MUSIC THEATER OF CONNECTICUT The Cole Porter Project April 19-May 5 Master Class Nov. 1-17 God of Carnage Jan. 31-Feb. 16, 2014 The Fantasticks April 11-May 4, 2014
CT REPERTORY (UConn) Hairspray April 25-May 5
Nutmeg Summer Series: The Drowsey Chaperone June 6-15 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum June 20-30 The Music Man July 11-21
SHUBERT THEATRE (New Haven) Les Miserables April 17-21 American Idiot May 3-5 West Side Story May 31-June 2
DOWNTOWN CABARET THEATRE 8-Track: The Sounds of the '70s April 19-May 12
Children's Stage: Wizard of Odds April 13-May 19
SUMMER THEATER SHAKESPEARE ON THE SOUND As You Like It June 13-30
ELM SHAKESPEARE Julius Caesar Aug. 1-Sept. 1
SUMMER THEATER OF NEW CANAAN South Pacific June 15-July 13 Grease July 19-Aug. 11 The Little Mermaid June 15-Aug. 11 The Cat in the Hat June 29-Aug. 11 Pinklaicious July 13-Aug. 11 CT FREE SHAKESPEARE TBD
O'NEILL THEATER CENTER Performances: National Puppetry Conference June 15, 16 Cabaret & Performance Conference July 31-Aug. 10 National Music Theater Conference