DHS Drama Raises Performing Arts To New Heights

Alexandra Stassinopoulos, World Editor

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Several weeks before the opening night of their spring musical In the Heights, one of the people listening to rehearsal remarked that the cast probably shouldn’t still be using the Broadway soundtrack to rehearse.

 

Well, as it turned out they weren’t: they were the only ones singing.

 

After Thursday night’s opening performance, it is clear that In the Heights could be a broadway show. Bringing together just over fifty students, the production shows what DHS Drama can truly offer.

 

The musical In the Heights was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and takes place in a barrio of Washington Heights, NYC. Nina Rosario grew up in the barrio and was the first person there, and in her family, to go college. However, after dropping out of her first year at Stanford, Nina returns home to face not only her parents, but all the people that were so proud of her when she left. The musical also follows Usnavi, a Dominican bodega owner, and his grandmother Abuela Claudia as they struggle over the change in the barrio. Over the course of her visit, Usnavi discovers what the people of the barrio really mean to him, and Nina realizes that to achieve her dreams, she must never give up.

 

Despite the fact that we live across the country, the DHS drama department managed to recreate a mini-barrio on stage. With the master set and on point acting, it was easy to believe that one sat not in Northern California, but in Washington Heights.

 

The leads of the Usnavi and Nina were played by Caedon Perriman and Gwynnevere Cristobal, and their abilities to get fulling in character really set the scene for the whole performance.

 

Starting in December, the In the Heights cast had to not only to work with Mr. DiLorenzo and Ms. Lopiano, the drama and choir teachers, respectively, to learn to sing and act their roles, but also to dance as performing In the Heights requires actors to put on a variety of hip hop and salsa numbers.

 

For Senior Keiva Bradley, who played Vanessa, Usnavi’s love interest, the “nine to one salsa rehearsals were really fun, but also really difficult at first, since you’re learning a whole knew way to dance”.

 

To top it off, the show’s music was not recorded, but was live: in the orchestra pit, Mr. Everts and several band students played with professional musicians, making the show just that much more special.

 

For the students actors, the whole process was exhilarating, if slightly exhausting. Many are already claiming the musical to be one their favorite experiences at DHS.

 

“The whole production was really a journey; everything was awesome and the whole experience was a blast.” said sophomore Noah Mac after the performance.

 

Christine Padrid, who played Camilla Rosario, Nina’s mom, agreed with him, saying that “the whole production was so emotional and now we’re all so close to one another, sort of like a family” and that forging a bond between everyone was hard, but once created was unbreakable.

 

Another actress, Nicole Dayton, cited the power of the musical: “I love to sing, and I think that telling stories through singing and music is so powerful. It was wonderful to be able to bring my character Abuela Claudia to life, especially because she’s a character that millions of Americans can connect to”.

 

Want to experience the magic for yourself? Go to the next performance of In the Heights at 7 p.m Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night! There is also a 2 p.m. matinee performance on Sunday. Tickets are $16 for students, and can be bought online at dhsdrama.com or at the door.