“In the Heights” with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and book by Quiara Alegría Hudes at Village Theatre

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© 2014 Mark Kitaoka

It’s almost Fourth of July in New York City’s Washington Heights. The George Washington Bridge towers majestically behind and above the tenements of this immigrant neighborhood where Dominicans dominate but other Latin Americans are part of the mix. The show (directed by Eric Ankrim) explodes onto the stage with the percussive beat of Latin pop, salsa, hip hop, and even a bit of rap.

With music direction by R.J. Tancioco, this is a show all about the music and dancing. You don’t come here for the story (luckily because the spoken words are often hard to hear). There are, however, any number of neighborhood tales of the soap opera variety that are spun out during the course of the production While they are very much secondary to the incendiary music and exuberant dancing, through those individual vignettes you’re made aware of the challenges and setbacks contemporary immigrants to America face as well as the ambitions that motivate them.

The dancers, choreographed by Daniel Cruz, are memorable. High kicks, splits, acrobatic jumps, twists, and turns. Dressed in the colorful and ethnic appropriate garb designed by Melanie Taylor Burgess and Kelly McDonald, these young dancers zoom about the stage with an energy that seems boundless.

Tom Sturge’s set with that wonderful bridge will make every ex-New Yorker homesick. He’s also responsible for the lighting, which in this show is especially significant. The lights on the bridge twinkle; sunsets and sunrises are ethereal; and, of course, there are Fourth of July fireworks.

The cast members are in good voice, and, since most of the dialog is sung, that’s definitely a good thing. So, if an evening of effervescent Latin music and movement delights you, this is for you.

Through Oct. 26, Village Theatre, 303 Front St. N, Issaquah, (425 392-22020, www.villagetheatre.org)
in Everett Oct. 31 – Nov. 23, Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett, 425 257-8600

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