Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Book by Quiara Alegira Hudes, Directed by Thomas Kail, Choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler. Richard Rodgers Theatre.
The general consensus with In The Heights is the following: The music is pretty good, the choreography is remarkable, Lin-Manuel Miranda (who wrote the music and lyrics and stars in the show) is a preternaturally gifted performer and writer to watch out for and the book is sentimental and sloppy and doesn't allow any darkness in. The reviews can basically be graded on how much weight they gave to each of these factors. The big surprise here is John Simon, who liked a show created by people of color, a rarity in his reviewing career. NOTE: several reviews, including a couple that did not care for the play as much as the ones in this post, have been left out because the links to them are now dead and the full reviews could not be located.
(David Rooney) The sense of people bound together yet each with a distinctive voice, honoring their cultural roots while determinedly carving their own identity, gives "In the Heights" real humanity that transcends its flirtation with cliche. That depth of feeling, together with the wit of Miranda's lyrics, the playful dexterity of his rhymes, his dynamic score and a bunch of truly winning performances, make the show an uncalculated charmer.
The Star Ledger A-
(Michael Sommers) A happy musical that's really not so far off from Broadway's beaten path as some potential customers might assume, "In the Heights" delivers a festive time that plenty of people will enjoy.
The Record A-
(Robert Feldberg) "In the Heights" may not be a complete picture of the world as it is, but Miranda's assertion that good feelings, charity, romance and happiness exist is a message that's very easy to take.
(John Simon) Reality is not the issue here; rather, it is fantasy, music, singing and dancing, and some salty dialogue, as well as flawless production values and performance. And, not least, the chance for a more typically ignored minority to display Main Stem theatrical talents in the show, whose concept, book and lyrics are by Lin-Manuel Miranda and whose music is by Quiara Alegria Hudes.
(Charles Isherwood) “In the Heights” moves uptown with its considerable assets confidently in place: a tuneful score enlivened by the dancing rhythms of salsa and Latin pop, sounds that are an ear-tickling novelty on Broadway; zesty choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler that seems to put invisible wings on the young cast’s neon-colored sneakers; and a stage amply stocked with appealing actors who season their performances with generous doses of sugar and spice... Its fundamental deficiencies are also along for the ride, unfortunately. Conceived by Mr. Miranda, with a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, “In the Heights” consists of a series of vignettes that form a vivid but somewhat airbrushed mural of urban life... it is basically a salsa-flavored soap opera, and if there is an equivalent of schmaltz in Spanish, this musical is happily swimming in it.
Time Out NY B+
(Adam Feldman) Lin-Manuel Miranda’s joyous score gives classic musical-theater themes (love, self-definition, overcoming adversity) a contemporary urban twist; when the charismatic composer himself—playing Usnavi, the garrulous proprietor of a corner bodega in Washington Heights—lets his own witty rhymes flow, he pulls Broadway into the present tense...If Quiara Algría Hudes’s book were up to the standard of the score, we might have a classic on our hands.
USA Today B+
(Elysa Gardner) If you're thinking an uptown Rent or an updated West Side Story, think again. Heights already has been cited alongside two other off-Broadway transfers, last season's multiple Tony Award winner Spring Awakening and this year's superb Passing Strange, as evidence of a more progressive and culturally eclectic spirit in musical theater.... But for all its youthful energy, Heights is ultimately a sentimental journey, and a safe one. True, its outcome is less predictable or hokey than the too-neatly constructed first act would suggest, but Quiara Alegria Hudes' book is no more clever or daring than that of your average Disney screen adaptation.
(Clive Barnes) So the music is fun, the lyrics are clever, and Miranda is the finest performer of that name since Carmen. And while no one else in the cast is at his level, or has his chances, most are pretty damn good....So with everything so right, what went wrong? What usually goes wrong on musicals: the book. Quiara Alegria Hudes' work is droopily sentimental and untruthful: Young love finds true love, old love reinforces fading love, the foreseeable right person wins the lottery and, just as foreseeable, the right person keels over dead exactly on cue.
NY Daily News C+
(Joe Dziemianowicz) The problem is that although the show is set in Washington Heights in 2008, the creators - Lin-Manuel Miranda (concept and songs) and Quiara Alegría Hudes (story) - have sensibilities stuck in the 1950s...What it lacks in story and believability it makes up for in a vibrant rap- and salsa-flavored score, spirited dances and great-looking design.
VARIETY A13 ; STAR-LEDGER A- 12; THE RECORD A- 12; BLOOMBERG A- 12; NYTIMES B+ 11; TONY B+ 11; USA TODAY B+ 11; NYPOST C+ 8; NYDN C+ 8; Total = 98 /9 = 10.89 = B+