'In the Heights' about the love of community

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Aug 07, 2014 - 9:59 AM |
Cast members with YES Theatre's “In the Heights” rehearse the musical, which is being staged at Sudbury Theatre Centre Aug. 8-23. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

Cast members with YES Theatre's “In the Heights” rehearse the musical, which is being staged at Sudbury Theatre Centre Aug. 8-23. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

Musical features New York City neighbourhood

As he prepared to stage “In the Heights” this summer, YES Theatre co-founder Alessandro Costantini really took his research seriously.

He paid a visit to Washington Heights, the Puerto Rican community in New York City where the Tony Award-winning play is set.

“It's a whole other world,” said Costantini, a Sudbury native who just graduated from George Brown College's theatre program. 

“You wouldn't believe it. It was pretty much like being in Puerto Rico. It was a separate thing from the hubbub of New York.”

“In the Heights,” which runs at Sudbury Theatre Centre Aug. 8-23, is “a really genuine look in on this people who love each other and love the community and love where they're from,” Costantini said.

Featuring music ranging from rap to salsa to more traditional musical numbers, he said the production appeals to a wide audience.

“There is something that will speak to an older generation of people who have parents who have immigrated,” said Costantini, who plays the store owner Usnavi in the musical.

“It'll speak to young people who dream of moving on and moving to a big city and doing something huge. It'll speak to people who struggle in school, people who struggle with money.

“It just kind of touches on all of the facets and all the wonderful, delicious places of a neighbourhood, right? It's just so vibrant. It's just beautiful.”

YES Theatre — currently celebrating its fifth anniversary season — aims to allow those interested in the world of theatre to gain experience in every aspect of a production.

“In the Heights” is just one of four productions planned for this year. After the popularity of “Jesus Christ Superstar” in 2013, YES Theatre brought the production back this July.

It also arranged a low-key staging of “Salt Water Moon” last month, and in December, the theatre company will put on “Les Misérables: In Concert” in partnership with Sudbury Symphony Orchestra.

Jake Deeth plays Benny, the only non-Hispanic character in “In the Heights.”

“He falls in love with the daughter of the man he works for,” which of course causes a lot of drama, Deeth said.

“I think the main idea behind (the play) is home and family. That's a beautiful message to carry on in a show.”

A Sudbury Secondary School graduate entering his second year of theatre studies at George Brown College, the young actor is in his fourth year with YES Theatre.

“It's so welcoming,” Deeth said. “It's so amazing. I think that's what an actor needs, is to feel supported and to not have any barriers put around them, and trust everyone around them. I think that's something that we've really achieved here.”

Tickets to the production, which cost $25 for students and seniors and $28.50 for adults, are available in person at the Sudbury Theatre Centre box office, by phone at 705-674-8381 or online at www.yestheatre.com.

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Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer


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