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Brookswood’s musical theatre students ready to hit new Heights
Brookswood Secondary’s musical theatre department is headed to the big city, with a Broadway extravaganza that has been praised by critics for its expressions of collective joy and energy.
In The Heights, a Tony-winning drama set in New York’s Washington Heights neighbourhood, tells the universal story of a vibrant community — a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open, and the breeze carries three generations of music.
It is a community on the brink of change — full of hopes, dreams, and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind.
In the Heights won the 2008 Tony Awards for best musical, best choreography and best orchestration. And it will hit the stage at Brookswood Secondary this week, featuring a cast, crew and orchestra of 75 students, representing every grade level at the school.
The Langley high school’s production of the play, which opened on the Great White Way in 2008, will be its Western Canadian premiere, according to BSS teacher Sharon Conrad, who is serving as co-artistic director of the production, alongside Gordon Hamilton and Sheri Eyre.
Musical direction is by Derrick Turi and choreography by Jordan Allarie.
Hamilton also designed the set — a gritty, urban street scene — which is inspired by the original Broadway production.
In addition to learning their parts (spoken, sung and danced) the young performers — including leads, Grade 12 student Jake Guy, who has had a principal role in every Brookswood musical since he arrived in Grade 8, as Usnavi, and Kaitlyn Santa Juana, who was second runner up in last year’s Langley Has Talent competition, as Nina — received Spanish language coaching to help them with the script, which features a number of Dominican-American characters.
Usnavi, who was named for the first thing his parents saw when arriving in America from the Dominican Republic — a U.S. Navy ship — owns a small bodega. He dreams of returning to the land of his birth and is in love with Vanessa.
Nina Rosario has just returned from her first year at Stanford University. As the only member of her family to go to college, she must find a way to tell them that she has dropped out.
Supporting the actors, meanwhile, is a full orchestra “composed of only Brookswood students, who will be playing live in the backstage area during the show,” said Conrad.
“If you’ve ever seen how small the wings are in our theatre, you will know that this is a major feat.”
Performances of In The Heights will take place each Wednesday to Saturday, beginning on Feb. 5 and running until Feb. 15. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and curtain goes up at 7 p.m.
Reserved seating is $12 for everyone.
Tickets are available exclusively online at: brookswoodmusicaltheatre.brownpapertickets.com and may be available at the door, depending on online sales.