I wake up and I got this little punk I gotta chase away
Pop the grate at the crack of dawn, sing
While I wipe down the awning
Hey y’all, good morning
Before there was "Hamilton" (the musical, not the person himself), there was "In the Heights." With many overlapping stories of people living in the barrio in New York, the story, at its core, is about love, facing discrimination and inequality, and "paciencia y fe" (in the words of Abuela Claudia).
Confession: I've been listening to the music (LOVE the intentional use of Spanish sprinkled here and there as well as the cultural feel in the score - such high energy!) for over a couple of months now, and it makes SO much more sense when you see the show in person.
The main character, Usnavi (you've probably never heard his name - his parents named him after something they read on a ship...think about it...), immigrated from the Dominican Republic and has been living with the "grandma of the barrio," Abuela Claudia. There are the gossiping women who run the hair salon, the family owners of a car business (and their daughter, Nina, who dropped out of college at Stanford because she was unable to maintain the jobs to pay for books), the piraguero (frozen ice seller), and more. Over the course of the play, the characters bring you into their world and all of a sudden, you're a part of the narrative. Characters with whom you have no personal connection with at the start of the play are the very ones you are crying and laughing beside by the end. It's absolute magic.
The show exceeded my expectations and left me in awe, both of the show's content and of its performers in Chicago. If it ever makes its way to your city, "damn, (you) gotta get on that."