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Pioneer Theatre Company brings NYC neighborhood to Utah


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SALT LAKE CITY -- If you're hearing some lively music coming from "the hill," it's because Pioneer Theatre Company has opened the curtain on its season. Broadway veterans -- including a Utah native -- are performing in the Tony-award-winning musical "In the Heights."

Yes it's rap, but it just might get your shoulders shaking and make you want to dance. And that's exactly the idea.

The title is short for multi-cultural, multi-racial Washington Heights in New York City. The set is nothing short of spectacular, a product of photographs taken by the director and set designer on a special trip to the real Washington Heights.


Performances of "In the Heights" run through Sept. 29 at Pioneer Memorial Theatre on the University of Utah campus. Managers say it's a PG-13 musical.

What you see on the stage is actually what you'd see in the neighborhood in which the play is set.

"In the Heights" features a top-notch ensemble cast, like Tony nominee John Herrera, who calls Washington Heights home.

"There's a quality of familiarity in just the surroundings," he said. "Until you leave the building and see the mountains. But as soon as you walk onto that set, you really do feel like you're in Washington Heights."

When it comes to the cast, Utah has some bragging rights. Broadway regular Natalie Hill, a native of Orem, landed a starring role. Her family will have its own cheering section.

"We have a group of 60 coming closing night. It's just outrageous," said Hill. "It's fun because I have a blog and I've gotten to meet all my fun followers in Utah and they've been really supportive of the show."


The importance of friends and community and how we support one another, I love that. I think it's perfect.

–Karen Azenberg


This production marks the debut for Pioneer Theater Company's new artistic director Karen Azenberg, herself a native New Yorker.

She says, although lively, the themes of family connections, a close neighborhood and achieving success will ring true with audiences here.

"The importance of friends and community and how we support one another, I love that," she said. "I think it's perfect."

An attention grabber, she says, with heart.

Performances of "In the Heights" run through Sept. 29 at Pioneer Memorial Theatre on the University of Utah campus. Managers say it's a PG-13 musical, so not appropriate for younger children.

Photos

Carole Mikita

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