Now before I begin to describe the magical eruption that was the Barrio tonight, I think it’s only wise I first describe what an MTAS member is. MTAS members are a mixture of performers (amateur and professional), musical composers and all round proud Musical Theatre fans. We all communicate via various social media forums all deriving from our busiest Facebook page ‘The Musical Theatre Appreciation Society’. Feel free to join us, as of now we have over 15,000 members! (Not quite 96,000).
As if the Barrio wasn’t energetic enough – the amazing Lin Manuel Miranda was in the building! Did his presence impact the performance? Is the sky blue! The atmosphere was beyond electrifying with bustling strangers united in the task of retrieving a cheeky snap of the man himself. Prior to my visit, there was speculation about Lin being in the building (See below)
Entering the building I made my way to a seating area. I was quickly asked by a member of staff if I wouldn’t mind vacating the area as it was reserved. I’ve watched this particular show 18 times today. This show has never made any special table reservations – so I knew. Oh we all knew. The whispers were exciting, everybody was on full alert. You didn’t need to be in a particular group to know what the content of their conversation surrounded. Then he appeared! From where? Who knows! Like moths to flames everybody gathered around him.
Always respectful, Lin smiled and waved and entertained the crowds from the confinement of his reserved corner.
The Barrio was more exciting than ever – the performers performed like they never performed before. Flips were higher, harmonies were tighter, dialogue was clearer and quite frankly everyone was that much happier. The barrio lost several of it’s brilliant cast members today and despite the amazing atmosphere Lin had caused; there was an overwhelming sadness. Devoting fans cried as their favourite cast members broke down openly on stage. Dare I say there was something quite beautiful about seeing the cast members simply letting themselves go – allowing themselves for once to unleash the boundaries of professionalism and be completely devoured by real human emotion.
“Just so you guys know, I am not Usnavi in this story – I am Nina” – Lin Manual Miranda
It was heart warming; it allowed the audience to feel closer to the cast than we had ever before. To draw on a particular moment PHILIPPA STEFANI (playing Daniela) found herself struggling to say her dialogue in a scene where her character had to part with her salon; home of her gossiping antics. Audience members held their breaths as we paused in a moment of uncertainty. Alas after a few moments one of the saddest parts of the dialogue escaped her “It’s like a band-aid – rip it off quick…”. In fact several of the dialogue felt more personal than ever. From Usnavi’s “Maybe tonight is our last night together” to Sonny’s “It’s the end of an era”.
The cast did an absolutely splendid job entertaining the audience and allowing the audience to entertain them. Standing ovations by tradition are always at the end of a show. This evening we broke that tradition several times! I found myself joining the crowd time and time again as we simply lifted in the moment to stand and cheer as loud as we could! At the end of the number Carnaval Del Barrio – we stood for over a minute. In fact SAM MACKAY playing Usnavi struggled to get the audience to calm down. ad-libbing some dialogue to get us to settle finally saw us retrieving our seats. After what was one of the strongest performances this cast has ever delivered producers and cast members made short speeches which were lathered in emotion. Then of course it was time for Lin! Lin’s speech was beautiful and inspired reminding the emotional cast that this journey was simply not the end. That the messages intertwined within the stories existed all around us and would follow these cast members through out their lives. He also let us in on a little secret “Just so you guys know, I am not Usnavi in this story – I am Nina” – Lin Manual Miranda. It was an absolutely wonderful evening, the staff were relaxed on camera’s as could be expected. As a result I managed to live stream a video of the curtain call and Lin’s speech to our nearing 16,000 members. I attach a link of this: https://youtu.be/M9ZW9ebZW70 (please be warned due to my seating, I had a very limited view of Lin and I imagine a better quality will be released by the production themselves! However if you can not wait – enjoy!
Did I enjoy myself?
It was one of the most exciting nights and I felt overjoyed to be there
Would I recommend this show?
This show is American rap combined with Latina rhythms. It offers a great venture into a tight Latin community and the staging allows for the audience to feel emerged into the action. To put bluntly if you haven’t seen it – grab yourself some tickets! (Please note that the Barrio will be closed from September 5th for a week).
What do I rate this production?
A solid 5/5! I wish the leaving cast a heartfelt good luck in their individual journeys and welcome the joining cast who will begin September 16th.
Written by MTAS ADMIN