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“In the Heights” by Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center

The given paper will review the theatrical performance of In The Heights, which was produced by Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center. It is a musical performance by an American author and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda based on a book by Chiara Alegria Hodes, which describes the life of the Washington Heights district of New York. The story revolves around a Latino shop owner Usnavi de la Vega, who interacts with a wide range of other characters (Performances, 2020). He eventually closes the shop and leaves with Claudia, a lucky lottery winner, to the Dominican Republic in order to return to his home (In the Heights, 2017). I think it is an outstanding piece of musical performance that perfectly illustrates rich Latino culture through excellent production.

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Design Elements

The most prominent and critical design elements of the production are costumes and music. The reason why I sincerely enjoyed costumes is the fact that the actors were dressed in highly bright and modern style clothes. Although the enclosed space of the theater cannot translate the weather conditions without some advanced technology, the clothing directly showed that this Latino district is hot and sunny. Most actors wore semi-Hawaiian and semi-Latino style clothes, which translated a relaxed and chill attitude of the performance. In addition, music was the key component of the musical because it was essential to immerse the audience in the eccentric and energetic Latino culture. The sound was a necessary element that escalated and accentuated the actors’ message and actions. Both music and costumes were the way they were due to the fact that the story focused on Hispanic and Latino Americans, and thus, it was important to represent their culture through sounds and visuals.


Acting is one of the central parts of the musical performances. The main character was played by David Alea, and Claudia was portrayed by Johanna Carlisle Zepeda (Cast, 2020). David was the most charismatic actor in every scene due to the overall professionalism, which is manifested in his emotional expressiveness. The primary reason is that such passionate acting was accompanied by outstanding vocal skills. There was no point of confusion regarding the character’s incentives and motivation, and thus, it was easy to be attached to the storyline. He made a choice of conveying the overall energy through his hand movements (Canyons news, 2016). Johanna, despite being a young and beautiful actress, was also great at portraying Claudia, who is an old Dominican-American woman longing to return to her homeland. The actress was excellent at conveying the deep emotional feelings of the character. Although it was difficult to observe the facial and bodily expressions due to the actress being constrained by an older woman’s physical appearance, she made a choice of delivering the emotional background through her voice.


The director’s main vision was to illustrate the Latino culture from all emotional angles, including stereotypical eccentric attitude and calmer settings. It works perfectly due to the combination of factors, such as good acting, music, and storytelling. The latter is manifested in the fact that the entire plot starts with a typical illustration of the Latino district, which is sunny, hot, and full of energetic individuals. However, as the musical progress, a viewer can observe a more relaxed and sadder aspect of the culture. For example, Claudia longs for her home country, and a student struggles with her tuition.


In conclusion, the musical In The Heights is a story of a Latino shop owner who closes his business and returns to his homeland with older lady Claudia. The production makes the performance outstanding by deploying perfectly calibrated background music, excellent acting, and genuinely realistic storytelling. In general, I recommend the given musical performance to anyone who wants to learn about Latino culture in more depth.

Reference List

Canyons news (2016) COC’s In the Heights. Web.

Cast (2020) Web.

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In the Heights (2017) Web.

Performances (2020) Web.

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