You may not know that among the venerable cultural landmarks in Philadelphia the Walnut Street Theatre is historic. It’s the oldest theater in the nation and celebrated its second century of continuous operation in 2009. The building at 9th and Walnut Streets is on the register of National Historic Landmarks. Throughout this time every actor of note in the United States has appeared at the Walnut, including Edwin Booth, brother of the man who shot Abraham Lincoln, Will Rogers, the Barrymores, and George M Cohan. Later on the theatre was graced by Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, William Shatner, and many others.
The Walnut Street Theatre’s latest presentation, which just opened, is IN THE HEIGHTS, the Best Musical Tony-award-winning Broadway show.
IN THE HEIGHTS takes place during a July 4th weekend in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City and is set to a Latin beat. The musical explores the joys, heartbreaks and bonds of a community struggling to redefine home. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who starred in the original production, IN THE HEIGHTS features the music, including hip hop, salsa, and pop, of three generations of Hispanic residents.
The New York Times’ Charles Isherwood said:
“When this musical erupts in one of its expressions of collective joy, the energy it gives off could light up the George Washington Bridge for a year.” He also wrote “…[its assets include] a tuneful score enlivened by the dancing rhythms of salsa and Latin pop, sounds that are an ear-tickling novelty on Broadway [and] zesty choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler that seems to put invisible wings on the young cast’s neon-colored sneakers…”
A feature film version of IN THE HEIGHTS is due out next year with creator Lin-Manuel Miranda reprising his starring role.
This production runs through October 20th on the Walnut Street Theatre’s main stage. There’s also a full season of productions on the Walnut Studio on 3 and special plays just for kids. To see the upcoming mainstage season click here and to get tickets here. Below, watch some highlights from the show.