Wednesday, July 15, 2015

In the Heights - meet music director Chris Tomasino

How did you first hear about the show?
I first heard about In the Heights while watching the 2008 Tony Awards.  The awards show presented an abbreviated version of the opening number and 96,000.  My initial reaction was not positive.  I could not understand what the show was about, plus it was in rap and hip hop - what?!  I was speaking about the show with my friend, Julio Diaz and he was so excited about the show.  He told me I would really like it and encouraged me to purchase the cast recording and listen to it.  I did and months later while working on a project at work, I decided to listen to the recording.  I was half listening to the show when I got to the middle of the second act and was totally surprised by an event.  I finished listening to the show and decided when I got home that evening, I would read the synopsis of the show while listening again.  When I finished the show the second time, I was in tears.  I admit I wear my heart on my sleeve, but I was very moved by its story and message.  Shortly thereafter, I saw the show in New York City with most of the original cast.  I laughed, tapped my toes, danced in my seat, and cried.

What is the sound of the show?
The show is presented through the sounds of today - rap, hip hop, and by the use of Latin rhythms.  However, this show remains true to the sound of Broadway by also using traditional ballads to help learn about the backgrounds and desires of the characters.  It is the unique blend of these sounds creating a show for both the traditional musical theatre audience, as well as a newer audience.  Audience members old and young will find something to enjoy in the score.  Whether it is the opening rap by Usnavi helping to start the forthcoming journey, the painful recounting by Kevin of his hopes and dreams in the ballad Inutil, the hopes and dreams of winning the lottery by the community in the hip hop 96,000, or the sounds from Cuba in the telling of Abuela Claudia's immigration in Paciencia Y Fe.  This show has a sound for everyone.

What is the show's message?
I think the show's message of finding home and community is one that is universal.  We all try to find a place where we belong and can call home.  For me, I have many communities - music, theatre, and banking.  However, I can honestly state theatre is my home.  It is where I find love, laughter, inspiration, frustration, tears, knowledge, and friendship, just to name some.  I also find LTA to be my home.  I can honestly say, outside of my family, I have never had a home quite like LTA.  I hope the audiences at LTA are inspired by the rap lyrics, the hip hop feel, the Latin rhythms, and can use the show as a springboard in their lives to find their community and what home means to them.

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