At the back of King’s Cross station is the potentially coolest theater I have been to in London. King’s Cross Theatre currently hosts In The Heights and Railway Children. The stages are set unlike any other theater. The old rail tracks form the middle and stage of the theater, while the platforms on either side of the tracks host the seats. Maybe it was because we were sat so close to the stage or it was the set-up of the performance in the theater, but it felt a lot more alive and immersive than anything else.
In The Heights is a musical for the younger audience for sure. It has a lot of rap and hip hop in it, very unusual for a musical. It’s set in Washington heights, Queens, NYC. A neighborhood that is filled with Latin-American culture and where getting out isn’t easy. The musical follows two story lines: that of recent college dropout Nina who returns to her old neighborhood after failing her exams and losing her scholarships because she had to work two jobs. On the other side you have Usnavy who runs the local corner shop and looks after his granny. The stories are relatable, even if you’ve never been to college, or have no idea how hard it is for a minority to catch a break in America. Every single character is lovable, although Nina’s voice is a little too outstanding for my liking.
In the end, the whole neighborhood comes together to celebrate the life of Usnavy’s granny and their uniqueness as a community. It’s endearing and sometimes heartbreaking. It hits home when grandma dies and the whole block comes together even though they just had a massive fight – my grandma died a year ago and living in a small village, funerals don’t tend to be big. But for my grandma, everyone showed up, the church was packed and you could feel the love and support. This is exactly what this moment on stage felt like, I had to fight back the tears quite a bit.
If you get the chance to catch this production, you should take it. I promise you won’t regret it.