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Orlando Shakes' 'In the Heights' radiates joy, warmth, love

“In the Heights” is pure joy to watch. In fact, the show’s warmth flows in every direction , radiating with love of family, love of one’s culture, love of the energy of New York City and most of all, a love of home.

The nine-piece band captures the Latin flavor of the score with precision and passion. The uniformly strong cast is radiant — just watch the ensemble pull off Kim Ball’s urban and Caribbean-inspired choreography. And the intimate layout of the Shakes’ Margeson Theater puts the audience right in these characters’ neighborhood, creating a far more personal experience than the last touring version of the show.

Director Nick DeGruccio expertly balances big and exuberant production numbers with smaller, emotional moments. He even manages to keep things from turning maudlin, a feat for a show that wears its heart on its sleeve so loudly and proudly.

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