I hate rap music. It's true. I hate it with such a passion that I often get into boisterous arguments with others about its worthlessness.
But the score of In the Heights is brilliant. Composer and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda weaves together slick lyrics with a soul-stirring mix of rap, latino music, and Broadway brass that defies you to stay still. If, at the very least, your head isn't bobbing within the first thirty seconds of the title song, you have severe issues. Add to that the effortless clarity and power of Karen Olivo's voice and Miranda's justified star turn, not to mention the spunk of Robin de Jesus, the intensity of Olga Merediz, and Christopher Jackson's infectious exuberance, plus literally everyone else in the cast, and you get a the joyful, moving score now available from Sh-K-Boom Records.
Highlights include the sick opening number "In the Heights," the beautiful ballads "Breathe" and "When the Sun Goes Down," the Act I closer "Blackout," and Mandy Gonzalez's explosive duet with Jackson "When You're Home." But two songs are particularly remarkable. The first is "96,000," a company number where everyone in the Heights fantasizes about what they would do if they won the lottery. Miranda plays with dynamics and actually throws rap, latino music, and Broadway brass into a mind-blowing counterpoint. And the second is the "Finale" which climaxes as only a finale can into a joyous, tear-filled moment where the company sings, all at once, a smattering of nearly all the songs from the previous hour of music. And it's TWO discs.
Essentially, it leaves me with that same pain in my gut that shows like Gypsy do. Only happier. And that was just hearing the music. I can't even imagine what I'll be like after I actually see it next month.