Sunday, March 14, 2010

In the Heights - Stage

"In the Heights" takes place in the neighborhood I lived in for ten years while I struggled to make my way as an artist in NYC. The view of the George Washington Bridge and all the mom and pop shops on Broadway are all very familiar. What is new, is the vibrant score which is a mix of rap, hip hop, salsa and meringue. The sound in the Bob isn't the best, so I had some trouble hearing lyrics, but the rhythm, beat and dancing same through loud and clear. What impressed me most about the production was the lighting done by Howell Binkley. He managed to catch the early morning way the sunlight would illuminate the tops of the buildings with a warm orange glow. At the end of the first act there was a fourth of July fireworks display that was masterfully crafted using lighting and sound.
To do this sketch I sat in the back row of the balcony, in nose bleed territory. I had a book light but became concerned that it was far to bright. Instead I sketched clandestinely in the darkness. An usher stood behind me the entire time I was working. This sketch should never have been created, but I am so glad that it was. The title "In The Heights could also refer to the fact that I did this sketch from the last seat in the last row of the balcony, nose bleed territory!
The show hits so many universal themes, like yearning to break free, living up to parents expectations, finding one's place in the world and finally discovering a place where you belong, finding home. I lived in Washington Heights for ten years yet never called it home. This show made me feel nostalgic about that time and neighborhood. The show is about hope and believing you might someday be able to change the world. I love the idea that the work of a graffiti artist could cement the thoughts of Usnavi, who yearned to get away, making him realize he was already home. On the final note of the final number the whole cast stood united singing "Home" in glorious harmony. That note left me feeling a warm glow, and I left the theater humming the tunes on the whole drive home.
There are only two performances left for "In The Heights" those are today, March 14th at 1 PM and 6:30 PM. This really was a fun show that for me hit all the right notes.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at


Joseph Hayes said...

When I was a kid in the Bronx, I had a girlfriend in Washington Heights, and I would walk across the bridge at the top of Fordham Road to her house almost every day. I knew he Heights well, and the original wave of subway graffiti, and remember standing under the El on Jerome Ave when rap and breakdancing was invented in the late 60s even though teenagers think it's brand new. Glad to see you got your illegal sketch anyway.

Thor said...

Not really illegal, just immoral. How cool that you have a Washington Height connection as well.

sandy said...

Enjoyed all your latest sketches.

Thor said...