Latin heat spices up Center Valley, Pennsylvania

Although retired since 2014, I still relish opportunities to teach, write, and share opinions.
The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival (the PSF) is now presenting the hit musical In the Heights until July 2.
Yes, you heard that correctly. The PSF isn’t only Shakespeare, but also includes a hit contemporary musical.
In the Heights has music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, book by Quiara Alegria Hudes, and was conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda. It is played in the lovely, new Main Stage theatre at the Labuda Performing Arts Center at DeSales University. With only 473 seats, it affords an intimate, personal connection with the stage and the actors. And what actors they are. A largely Latin cast brings real flair to the material presented on stage. Hector Florez, Jr., is the Latin Assistant Choreographer and Dance Captain, for only one example. 
According to the program, “Time/Place: July 3 through 5 during a heat wave, one block in Washington Heights, Manhattan.” Perhaps you’ve seen the film, or seen a production of the musical. Many this evening had apparently never experienced either one. They gasped, they moaned in sympathy with the actions on stage. The set, costumes, and stage craft were of professional caliber, as were the experienced actors, many of whom were members of Actors’ Equity. All the actors had great and memorable star turns, while a few shone even more brightly. Sonny, played by Luis-Pablo Garcia, was a knockout. Not only could he sing, deliver lines to land a punch line with comedic aplomb, but do somersaults, aerial leaps, and land in a split. He is a star of the future. 
Ryan Reyes, as an especially handsome Usnavi, Ralphie Rivera de Jesus as a jittery, somersaulting Graffiti Pete, Jacquelin Lorraine Schofield as Abuela Claudia surprised with her knock-em-dead, roof-raising rendition of “Paciencia Y Fe (Patience and Faith)”. Kevin Matthew Solis was Piraguero, the flavored, shaved-ice vendor.
Director Valeria Cossu and Musical Director Walter “Bobby” McCoy brought out the best efforts of dancers, singers, and musicians. 
An amusing moment occurred before the curtain rose. A stentorian, female voice was overheard saying to her friend or spouse, “No, it’s not Brooklyn Heights, but Washington Heights. No wonder you never heard of it. Look at the stage. The place is a dump!”
You owe it to yourself to drive through the bucolic landscape on the way to the beautiful PSF to experience a relaxed, unhurried evening, maybe having a meal,  experiencing a great musical, all with plenty of free parking.
In the Heights will be on the Main Stage until July 2. For information and tickets, call 610-282-9455, or visit . There are many more offerings throughout the summer, all to be seen at their website. 

Read Related Posts...