Skylight heats up the Cabot Stage with In the Heights – MEDIA RELEASE

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Get ready to dance in your seats! Skylight Music Theatre brings the energetic, Spanish-infused and Pulitzer-prize nominated musical In the Heights, to the Cabot Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center (158 N. Broadway, Milwaukee WI), running January 31 through February 23, 2014.

 In the Heights is a 2008 Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical about life in a tight-knit community where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. Heights melds a variety of musical styles from vibrant, freestyle rap to rhythmic salsa, as it explores the universal themes of finding the freedom to be ourselves and discovering our place in the world.

“This is a story about family, cultural roots, personal achievement and the search for a new place in the world that the characters can call home. It is a show we can all relate to, and for me especially, it is a tribute to those who have survived home sickness and cultural clash, and went forward to achieve their goals,” says Heights Director, Ragnar Conde.

Written by Quiara Algería Hudes, with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, In the Heights has been nominated for thirteen Tony Awards winning Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations. In the Heights also stands out as a Broadway show for having one of the largest Latino casts ever called for. Skylight will feature locals Rána Roman, David Flores and Erika Wade, among others.

Continuing with the theme of the 2013-2014 season, Revolution, In the Heights explores this idea but with a twist. Unlike the first three shows of the season that dealt with revolution in a more traditional meaning of the word – political prisoners, the struggle against tyranny, or escaped slaves – In the Heights focuses on more personal and internal revolutions.

 

CREDITS

Music & Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Book by Quiara Algería Hudes
Conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda

 

PRODUCTION TEAM

Stage Director -  Ragnar Conde
Music Director -  Jeff Schaetzke
Assistant Director -  Katherine Duffy
Scenic Designer -  Misha Kachman
Assistant Scenic Designer -  Ruthmarie Tenorio
Assistant Scenic Designer – Deborah Wheatley
Lighting Designer -  Holly Blomquist
Costume Designer  -  Rachel Laritz
Sound Designer  -  Gary Ellis
Choreographer  -  Claudia Sol Morgan

 

CAST

Usnavi -  Tommy Rivera-Vega
NinaRána Roman
KevinDavid Flores
CamilaEricka Wade
BennyRueben Echoles
VanessaKatherine Brady
SonnyMarcus Cunningham
Abuela ClaudiaChristina Aranda
DanielaSishel Claverie
CarlaRachel Marie LaPorte
Graffitti PeteKarl Iglesias
PiragueroAdrian Feliciano
Ensemble: Alicia Rice (Dance Captain), David Roman, Sally Staats, Naiza Delica, Indy Valentin, Sean Jackson

 

ORCHESTRA

Alto/Tenor/Baritone Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet – Ron Foster
Trumpet, Fluegel Horn – Tom Schlueter
TromboneKyle Samuelson
Keyboard – David Bonofiglio
Electrical/Classical/Acoustic Guitars – Steve Lewandowski
BassTom McGirr
Drums, Timbales, Misc. Percussion  – Michael Lorenz
Congas, Bongos, Misc. Percussion – John Seydowitz

 

KEY BIOGRAPHIES

Tommy Rivera-Vega (Usnavi) – Tommy Rivera-Vega is excited to be making his Skylight Music Theatre debut! Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Tommy has called Chicago home for the past 6 years. Chicago Credits include In the Heights, My Fair Lady (Paramount Theatre), Three Sisters (Steppenwolf), Kiss of the Spider Woman (BoHo Theatre), Augusta and Noble (Adventure Stage Chicago), Pippin (Music Theatre Company), CATS, Joseph….Dreamcoat, Oklahoma!, The Producers, Footloose (Little Theatre on the Square), CATS (Theo Ubique), AIDA (Bailiwick Chicago). Tommy was also part of the Original Puerto Rican casts of Spring Awakening (Moritz) and Footloose (Ren). Tommy is a proud North Central College of Naperville IL Musical Theatre Alumnus. Thanks to my family, friends, and Gray Talent Group for their constant support!

Rána Roman (Nina) – Rána Roman has been seen here at Skylight in Rent, The Tavern Keeper’s Daughter (collaboration with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre), in several cabarets upstairs in the Skylight Bar & Bistro, and touring with KidsWrites. She opened last season at Renaissance Theatre Works in Enfrascada, and has been seen at First Stage Theatre in Moll Hill Stories, Seussical, U Bug Me, and If You Take a Mouse to School. This season you can see her in Chamber Theatre’s production of Lend Me a Tenor, and in Milwaukee Opera Theatre’s Fortuna the Time Bender vs. the School Girls of Doom. When she’s not doing live theatre, Rána is a lead singer for NiteLife, The Mr. Lucky Syndicate, Avenue Z, and Platinum.

David Flores (Kevin) – David Flores has performed extensively in the Milwaukee area with many theatre, music, and dance companies, including Alchemist, Boulevard, Cornerstone, In Tandem, Milwaukee Chamber, Milwaukee Shakespeare, Off The Wall, Optimist, Theatre X, Windfall, Florentine Opera, and Wildspace Dance.  Previous Skylight appearances include Man of La Mancha (Barber) and Animal Crackers (Hives) on the main stage, and Broadway, Bolero, And Beyond and Esta Noche Cantamos in the cabaret.  Other credits include Tartuffe (Tartuffe), The Merchant of Venice (Shylock), Uncle Vanya (Vanya), Don Juan In Hell (The Devil), A Delicate Balance (Tobias), Jesus Christ Superstar (Herod), A New Brain (Richard), Sweeney Todd (Judge Turpin), A Little Night Music (Fredrick Egerman), and Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well.  “Uno debe merecer los sueños para alcanzarlos.” (Octavio Paz)

Ericka Wade (Camila) – Ericka is excited to be back at Skylight with In the Heights.  She was previously seen in Skylight’s production of Rent. Ericka has performed with a number of theatre companies in Milwaukee, including the Boulevard Ensemble Studio Theatre, Greendale Community Theatre, First Stage Children’s Theatre, Sunset Playhouse, and Uprooted Theatre. She has been seen in some of her favorite shows, including The Wiz, Avenue Q, Rent, Aida and Say Goodnight, Gracie.


Rueben Echoles (Benny) –
Rueben D. Echoles is a native of Chicago and has been seen on stages throughout the U.S. He is an ensemble member of the Black Ensemble Theatre of Chicago, as well as the Associate Artistic Director, Resident Choreographer, and Wig Designer for the company.  Rueben is thrilled to be making his Skylight Music Theatre Debut.  Some of his other credits include The Jackie Wilson Story (B.B.), The Marvin Gaye Story (Berry Gordy), The Wiz (The Wiz), Once On This Island (Papa Ge) and Dreamgirls (C.C.).

 Katherine Brady (Vanessa) Katherine Brady is thrilled to be making her Skylight debut. Most recently she was on the 2nd National Tour of In the Heights where she played Carla and was U/S for Nina and Vanessa. Once you’re a part of the In the Heights family it’s in your life forever.

 

 

Marcus Cunningham (Sonny) – This is Marcus Cunningham’s first show at Skylight, and he couldn’t be more excited. Marcus recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater with a BFA in theatre performance.  He now lives in Chicago where he is acting professionally.  There, he has worked with Second City and Profiles Theatre, and looks forward to more in the future.  Next fall Marcus plans on attending graduate school to receive his MFA in acting.

Christina Aranda (Abuela Claudia) – Christina Aranda is originally from Houston, Texas. She holds a BA in Music – Vocal Performance from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and is a proud graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. Ms. Aranda is honored to wear the comfortable shoes of Abuela Claudia once again after performing the role both in the extended run at Westchester Broadway Theatre and in national tour of In the Heights. She has also toured the country in The Kennedy Center’s production of Barrio Grrrl!, written by Quiara Hudes (bookwriter, In the Heights). Favorite regional performances include Man of La Mancha (Housekeeper), Songs for a New World (Woman 2), Urinetown (Little Sally), Once Upon a Mattress (Lady Larkin), and Damn Yankees (Meg Boyd). Much love to Mom, Dad, Laura, and Shawn. Everyday, paciencia y fe. Ms. Aranda is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.

Rachel Marie LaPorte (Carla) Rachel is beyond grateful to be at Skylight Music Theatre in this production of In the Heights. This musical holds a special place in Rachel’s heart, as she has called Washington Heights NYC home for the past four years. Rachel is the proud recipient of a BFA from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. Past credits include In The Heights (Paramount Theatre), 9 to 5, Grease, Chicago (Little Theatre on the Square), In The Heights, and Cabaret (Cohoes Music Hall).

 

Karl Iglesias (Graffitti Pete) – Karl is an actor, educator, musician, dancer, writer, and director. The Milwaukee native earned his BA in theatre and drama as an Acting Specialist, and is a First Wave Scholar. Karl debuted his one-man show, If a Tree Falls, as a featured artist in the 2009 Hip Hop Theatre Festival in New York City; part of the Young, Gifted, and Hyped series. Not long after, his work debuted internationally at the Contact Theatre in Manchester, England. Most recently, Karl played in the North American debut of the University Theatre’s Pedro and the War Cantata at UW-Madison.  Also known as “Oye” in his music group Raglife, he’s created music in collaboration with Klass Act Productions. He shared the stage with Ludacris, Lil B, Mac Miller, Chance the Rapper, and Kendrick Lamar, to name a few.

Adrian Feliciano (Piraguero) – Adrian F. Feliciano is excited to be returning to his hometown to perform in Skylight Music Theatre’s production of In the Heights. After receiving his BFA in acting at UW-Milwaukee, Adrian spent the next few years growing as an artist in Milwaukee with the great local theatre companies. In the summer of 2012, with the support of his family and friends, he relocated to Los Angeles to further his career.

 

Ragnar Conde (Stage Director) – A native of Mexico, Ragnar Conde has directed over 60 performing arts projects in different cities of Mexico, the Unites States, Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Columbia. He has served as stage director, acting coach, writer, art designer, producer, and teacher in both the educational and professional sectors of theatre, musicals, opera, and films. These institutions and companies include SIVAM, ARGOS, Artepost Productions, San Benito Abad Theatre, Nickelodeon, Artescenica, ITESM-CEM, National Fine Arts Opera Company, Zacatecas Opera Company, Solists Ensemble, Pro-Opera, Merola Opera Program, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, West Bay Opera, Golden Ceiba Productions, Mobile Productions, Xcaret Archeological Park, and Escenia Ensamble, A. C. where he is the General Director. His opera productions include L’Enfant et le Sortiléges, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Il Segreto di Susana, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Le nozze di Figaro, I Pagliacci, Hänsel und Gretel, Carmen, La Scala di Seta, and Samson et Dalila, among others. With In the Heights he’s coming back into the musical sphere.

Jeff Schaetzke (Music Director) –Jeff is grateful for the opportunity to work on this groundbreaking piece with such talented artists and musicians.  Jeff has directed music for Skylight’s Dames at Sea, and An Evening with Gilbert and Sullivan, and appeared in My Fair Lady.  Jeff is the Company Manager at First Stage, having just directed Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  Other First Stage shows include Big: The Musical, Miss Nelson Is Missing!, My Son Pinocchio, Rudolph, and Romeo and Juliet.  Other credits include Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s The Daily News, two seasons at American Players Theatre, and university experiences at Marquette, UWM, and Carroll.  As the Theatre Director at Dominican High School for 17 years, productions include Phantom of the Opera, CATS, Les Misérables, Ragtime, Hairspray, Metamorphose, Myths and Hymns, Pirates of Penzance, Children of Eden, and many others. A Proud graduate of North Central College, Jeff dedicates his performance to his courageous sister, Johanna, who inspires him and changes lives in and around ‘the Heights.’

Claudia Sol Morgan (Choreographer) – Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Claudia has danced internationally with some of the best salsa dancers of her generation. She studied contemporary dance at the Escuela Superior de Música y Danza de Monterrey, and Psychology at the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. She danced with Juventud Mexicana, Sunny Savoy, and Salzumba, among other companies. She also hosted the Salsa TV show called Skandalo Latino, and won the Monterrey Salsa Open competition in 2007 and 2008.  In 2009 Claudia founded her own dance company, Clave Sol Danza. Later that year, she got the Financiarte scholarship for directing and choreographing her own complete show. She founded Solseras Dance Company in Monterrey in 2010. She also created the first “Bailoterapia” (Dance Therapy) certification in Mexico supported by the UANL. Claudia has taught and performed in Mexico, the U.S.A, Japan, Hungary, France, Ireland, Curacao, Canada, and Estonia. She moved to Wisconsin in 2012 and opened Solseras teams in Madison and Milwaukee. She now dances with Kanopy Dance Company and works as an independent dancer, and as an instructor for Danceworks, Wild Space, and Delaware House.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Skylight Music Theatre’s production of In the Heights is generously sponsored by Johnson Bank.

Performances of In the Heights will take place January 31st through February 23rd in the Cabot Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee. Tickets are generally $22.50 – $65.50 (plus tax) and can be purchased in person at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office or by calling (414) 291-7800 Monday – Sunday from noon – 6:00 p.m. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.skylightmusictheatre.org. Group, student, senior and other discounts may also be available.

 

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