'In the Heights' packs a wallop in Westchester

Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 7:00 am By: David Begelman Source: Danbury News Times
Rosario (Benjamin  Perez in a heartfelt portrayal).

When director John  Fanelli's high-energy cast members propel themselves in dance numbers,  you're not particularly riveted on whether Daniela (a fetching Ariana Valdes)  closes her salon, or how Usnavi (an arresting and sprightly Perry Young) and  Vanessa (a determined Gizel  Jimenez) make each other jealous, whether or not Sonny (a commanding Greg  Laucella) commissions a graffiti mural of the matriarch Abuela Claudia (in a  stunning characterization by Christina  Aranda) or whether the hardworking and devoted Benny (a steadfast Fatye)  will make it with Nina against all odds (he's an African-American in a  predominantly Latino barrio).

You just want triple-threat performers to start doing their thing again to  Lin-Manuel Miranda's music, as directed by Shelton  Becton.

The Westchester production of "In the Heights" is the first production of the  musical in the wider NYC area since the show closed on Broadway. It has the  distinction of showcasing a uniformly accomplished cast who can sing and dance  salsa/hip-hop/rap like there's no end in sight. The level of aptitude here is  high, and you're hard pressed to determine which of the performers are Actors'  Equity members and which are not. As though it made any discernable difference  in this production.

David  Begelman  is a freelance writer in Connecticut and can be reached at  begelman33@gmail.com.

Read more: http://www.newstimes.com/news/article/In-the-Heights-packs-a-wallop-in-Westchester-4294727.php#ixzz2LYeNTnQC