WOHS In The Heights: Review

WOHS In The Heights: Review

Mian Franco, Arts and Politics Editor

WEST ORANGE, Nj — This year’s West Orange High School (WOHS) spring musical has been all the rave. “In the Heights,” is easily one of the coolest musicals. One of the best parts is watching each character have their own time to shine, and I found myself more drawn to talent of those kids rather than the obvious skills of the leads. I have to admit, I was a bit wary about some of the cast at first, but upon actually watching the show I was thoroughly impressed.

Firstly, the choreography was nothing short of incredible. This may be somewhat of an exaggerated superlative, but it was genuinely comparable to that of the original show, and I applaud Ms. Sande, the show’s choreographer, for her effort. It was especially fantastic during The Club scene, which is depicted by the a majority cast dancing around the stage under the colored lights. One particular ensemble member, Israel Soto Jr. who portrayed Jose, the local club´s best dancer, was notably extraordinary.

Speaking of extraordinary, let’s talk about Abuela Claudia, played by senior, Sophia Torres. Torres’s rendition of Paciencia y Fe (Patience and Faith) was another thing I would equate with the original 2008 show. Olga Merediz, the original Abuela Claudia, would be proud of Torres’s rendition of the number.

Also, sophomore, Joseph Nalieth, was astonishing as Kevin Rosario, Nina’s dad. I was familiar with his work when I saw him as Link Larkin in Hairspray at Roosevelt Middle School a few years ago, and was startled by the change in his voice. Joe’s version of the song Inutil (Useless) made me a little misty.

Nina and Benny played by, junior, Gabby Florendo and sophomore, Khalil Louigene had phenominal duets. Between Benny’s Dispatch, When You’re Home, Sunrise, When the Sun Goes Down — you name it — all of their duets were great. I was also pleasantly surprised by the appearance of AB-Salute, or more commonly known as the WOHS boy’s step team, during the “no pare, sigue, sigue,” transition of When You’re Home. That was a cool idea, and definitely added a personal West Orange twist to the classic show.

Camila Rosario played by sophomore, Isabella Saade, and Daniela played by freshman, Jordan Scott Young, stole the show come the second act. Both of their big numbers, Enough and Carnival del Barrio respectively were expertly executed and I thoroughly enjoyed watching Camila tell both her husband and daughter off.

Of course, I can’t get through an entire In the Heights review and not once mention either Usnavi, Ruben Centeno, or Sonny, Julian Adams. This dynamic duo was brilliant and their roles fit them perfectly. They had amazing chemistry as if they were actual cousins just trying to scrape by in Washington Heights. Julian was definitely the perfect Robin de Jesus to Ruben’s outstanding Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Overall, the singing was great. the acting was spectacular, and the dancing was absolutely sensational.