John Herrera, Natalie Toro, Joseph Morales Star in Utah Premiere of In the Heights, Launching Pioneer Season
By Kenneth Jones
Broadway's John Herrera and Natalie Toro are among cast members of the Utah premiere of the Tony Award-winning Best Musical In the Heights, now in rehearsal by Pioneer Theatre Company for a Sept. 14-29 run.
Toro, who plays Nina's mother Camila, appeared in Broadway's A Tale of Two Cities and Les Misérables. Herrera, who plays Nina's father Kevin, starred in developmental steps of In the Heights, including the 2007 Off-Broadway premiere. His Broadway credits include the revivals of Man of La Mancha. Threepenny Opera and 1776, plus the original production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
The company, under the direction of Matt August, also includes Joseph Morales as Usnavi, Anthony Martinez as Sonny, Debra Cardonas as Abuela, Emily Vasquez as Nina, Natalie Hill as Daniella, Joshua Boone as Benny, Manoly Farrell as Vanessa, Paul Aguirre as Piraugua Guy, Carleton Bluford, Jeremy McQueen as Graffiti Pete, Lauren Sambataro, Sydni Beaudoin, William Cooper Howell, Ariana Escalante as Carla, Robin Auva'a, Sara Kae Childs, David Guy Holmes, Christopher Squires and Victoria de Altamirano.
The creative team includes choreographer Bob Richard, musical director Helen Gregory, set and costume designer Skip Mercier, lighting designer Paul Miller and sound designer Matthew Tibbs.
In the Heights, a snapshot of the friends, family, lovers and neighbors in the changing Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights in northern Manhattan, won the 2008 Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Score (Lin-Manuel Miranda), and was nominated for Best Book (Quiara Alegría Hudes). It was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. The show was conceived by Miranda, who also created the role of the show's charming narrator-guide, a bodega operator named Usnavi.
Here's PTC bills the Latin-beat-filled pop musical: "In Washington Heights, New York, three generations of Latino immigrants dream of succeeding in America while at the same time holding onto their culture and heritage. An uplifting and joyous celebration of life, In the Heights shows us a world that is at once exotic and different from our own but filled with the same dreams shared by us all."
Librettist Hudes won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for her play Water By the Spoonful.
Read Playbill.com's account of the final Broadway performance of In the Heights in January 2011. Pioneer Theatre Company's 2012-13 season is the first under new artistic director Karen Azenberg. Read more about the appointment of Karen Azenberg.
Performances play Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 South 1400 East, Salt Lake City, UT. For more information, visit pioneertheatre.org.
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