ARTISTS PRODUCTION TEAM VIDEOS PHOTOS BLOG
Chicago Sun-Times - Hedy Weiss
Porchlight Music Theatre’s production of “In the Heights” is such an overwhelming experience on every level — in the brilliance and endearing warmth of its cast, the passion behind its storytelling, the piercing truth and mastery of its direction, the thrill of its explosive dancing, the magic of its mix of voices, the detail of its design and the instant connection it forges with its audience — that it is difficult to know where to begin when heaping praise on it all.
[Brenda] Didier, the ever-masterful, from-the-heart director (who has choreographed the show with Christopher Carter), turns every song into a full-blown dramatic scene, and her actors follow suit, with Diana Lawrence’s musical direction synched with Miranda’s magical score…
As lead Nina Rosario, the brilliant Lucia Godinez absolutely shines.
Porchlight’s Washington Heights’ neighbors make the community come alive. Stephen Allen is a kind, vulnerable Benny who matches Godinez vocally, note for note. Michelle Lauto is a sexy, great singing Vanessa. Frankie Leo Bennett‘s Sonny is fun, funny and real. Leah Davis and Missy Aguilar in the salon; Stan DeCwikiel, Jr. as the loveable Piragua Man; and Jordan DeBose and Keely Vasquez as Nina’s parents all shine by belonging…and by singing extraordinarily well.
In the same way centuries of parents have advised the next generation to “listen to your elders,” so does Porchlight’s In the Heights implore: “Paciencia y fe.” Patience and faith.
TimeOutChicago - Kris Vire
THREE STARS - RECOMMENDED
There’s so much to admire … in Brenda Didier’s compact but compelling production—particularly the cast’s young women. Lucia Godinez, still an undergrad at Northwestern, is magnetic as Nina Rosario, the good girl who bears the burden of being Washington Heights’s neighborhood success story. Michelle Lauto already has a non-Equity Jeff Award nomination under her belt but feels like a real discovery as Vanessa, Usnavi’s love interest yearning to break free from her home
And Porchlight’s intimate production, featuring killer music direction by Diana Lawrence, gives every member of its community time to shine.
Chicago Reader - Tony Adler
A REALLY GOOD SHOW
The music is extraordinary.
It's the sense of ensemble energy that makes this In the Heights delightful.
The ensemble of this HEIGHTS teems with energy and abundant vocal talent (particularly from many of the expert female actors), making this an inviting and enjoyable evening of theater.
IN THE HEIGHTS’ ensemble does not miss a beat. The cast makes joyful work of high-energy group numbers like “96,000” and “The Club,” while also leaning into the more emotional numbers, particularly “Alabanza.” The company has a true community feel in this production, which helps underscore the tension between Washington Heights as a nurturing and warm community while also being a place that some may need to leave in order to grow and develop (notably, we see this with Vanessa and Nina).
Porchlight delivers a joyous celebration of what it means to be "home.”
I do think Mr. Miranda would enjoy this show.
WindyCityTimes - Eric Karas
His [Lin-Manuel Miranda] musical Hamilton is the talk of the nation, but this was the show that brought him national attention—and in this raucous joyous production you can see why.
The entire company, with choreography by Brenda Didier and Chris Carter, keeps the show moving and hopping.
This is one of Porchlight's finest productions. The show never stops moving and is emotionally on target. By the time the cast is singing "96,000" ( about them dreaming of winning the lottery ) the energy is jumping off the stage.
You can save the hundreds of dollars going to see Hamilton and check out Miranda's original incredible musical of family and neighborhood. This cast and production has the energy, spirit and talent needed to bring it to life.
In song after song, and dance after dance, In the Heights captures the hold of ‘hood and home on the imagination of children of all ages. The particulars of a barrio under siege of gentrification are there-- but so is the universal love of place that’s in the air from Kabul to Kennebunkport.
In the Heights’Director Brenda Didier has assembled a magnetic cast that fills the hall with superbly timed songs and dances delighting in wave after wave.
Perfect to place and time costumes (Costume design: Kate Setzer Kamphausen) add to the thrill of seeing such a super-sized production up close and personal on a relatively intimate stage—a seeming hallmark of all Porchlight productions.
It’s the talent in telling the tale that makes this a standout on Chicago stages.
A vigorous and heartfelt revival by Porchlight Music Theatre
The songs, beautifully shaped by music director Diana Lawrence, make the audience care and smile. Even better, they give a valedictory plot life and love. Credit that as much to the warm rapport established by a seasoned cast and inspired by director/co-choreographer Brenda Didier and Chris Carter. The breakout dances, like the title rouser, the riotous “Alabanza,” and the contagious “Club"
High energy and vocally strong production of In The Heights awaits.
In The Heights benefits from the intimate thrust stage at Stage 773 and Porchlight’s deft production values. This production will get you in the mood forHamilton by experiencing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work.
Director Brenda Didier masterfully choreographs, along with Christopher Carter, a vivid salute to this Dominican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Mexican, Ecuadorian -American neighborhood.
Under the skillful musical direction of Diana Lawrence, the songs establish home and heart.
I thoroughly enjoyed IN THE HEIGHTS. I misted up three times visiting this community anchored in heart and humor. Whether you can get HAMILTON tickets or not, you should get tickets to this original, award-winning Lin-Manual Miranda musical. But better act quickly, performances keep selling out.
You will walk out of the theater being entertained and with a huge smile on your face and a warm feeling in your heart!
Under the swift direction of Brenda Didier who also co-choreographed with Christopher Carter, this is an amazingly high energetic cast.
In fact, the voices we heard in this production are even better than the previous touring show that BIC brought into town.
Porchlight is one of our musical theater companies that seems to always find raw talent and mold them into the best Chicago has to offer. Hats off to the ensemble of this sterling production.
This is one that it is worth changing your schedule for.
New City - Kevin Greene
A blaze of sensual, sensational glory
This cast is overflowing with talent and energy
Director Brenda Didier, along with co-choreographer Christopher Carter, put the eighteen-person cast through their musical paces, using all corners of Greg Pinsoneault’s layered set, which pops with the added local color of Jose Arceo’s bold, beautiful graffiti
Chicago Tribune - Chris Jones
A profoundly joyous celebration
You get a show that puts less of a focus on bravura personality and more on the show's central collective dilemma — how much should you value the love of your home community when greater opportunity is to be found elsewhere?
There is much good that surrounds DeCesare's lead, especially [Michelle] Lauto and [Lucia] Godinez (whose rich authenticity avoids the blandness of some of the Ninas I have seen), but also Keely Vasquez (who plays Camila Rosario) and Missy Aguilar, who plays Daniela. The happy result of those cumulative talents, and of a quieter Usnavi and, in fact, less dominant male characters in general, is a more woman-centric "In the Heights." You get a show that puts less of a focus on bravura personality and more on the show's central collective dilemma — how much should you value the love of your home community when greater opportunity is to be found elsewhere?
PlaylistHQ - Quinn Delaney
The cast is incredible. They flawlessly belt out song after song with powerful voices. The dancing and choreography is also top of the line. The audience was completely engaged throughout the performance, hooting and cheering at times with delight. All fans of Hamilton and of musical theatre will enjoy this show immensely.