I’ve had some great theatre experiences in my life, from seeing Newsies on Broadway to sitting on the front row for Miss Saigon and Wicked. But this one night in a tiny off-West End theatre in Kings Cross was probably better than all of them. Thanks to my theatre-nerd friend Carrie, I ended up with a ticket to see the last ever London performance of In The Heights. Yes, we had bad seats right at the side, but the atmosphere was everything. To top it all off, composer of both In The Heights and Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda (aka my idol) showed up and I could not handle it.
What a night!
Read on for all the highlights.
We arrived at the King’s Cross theatre with plenty of time before the show. We walked down into the bar area and it was already packed with people. We soon found out why it was so busy. They had opened up more seats than usual to deal with the higher demand, and we had those seats that were on the side. It meant that we had a restricted view, but it was worth having certain scenes cut off so that we could experience the atmosphere.
From the very second that the first cast member came on stage, the crowd went wild. There were cheers and applause throughout; at funny lines, at key moments, and whenever a new actor came onto the stage. It was amazing.
The first standing ovation came after the electric ‘96,000’ and it seemed to go on forever. People were dancing along to ‘Blackout’ and the standing ovation for the interval seemed to last forever. It was easy to see that the cast members were getting emotional as they said their favourite lines and sang their solos for the last time.
At the end, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Sam Mackay, who has played the title role of Usnavi since the musical first came to London in 2014, changed seamlessly from his New York accent back to British for the last time to do a speech. It was so odd to hear the switch after seeing him perform in the musical on three separate days over the last year. His speech showed how much the show had come to mean to him over the years.
He was followed by a producer of the show, who then introduced none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda.
I freaked out.
I practically hit Carrie and started jumping up and down, screaming and crying. My voice entered a pitch that I didn’t even know that it could reach. Not only was he the brain child of In The Heights, but he is also behind the US smash-hit musical, Hamilton. I’m kind of obsessed with it. It’s coming to London in November 2016 and I’ve got preview tickets with my sister. We cannot wait.
Lin was only on the stage for a few minutes, and then everyone was leaving for the last time. We stayed put for a while, and then decided to go out to the stage door. The crowd waiting there was huge, but we stuck it out and got to meet three of the lead cast members – Usnavi, Nina and Sonny. They were all lovely and didn’t mind having to work their way around the full crowd.
As it turned out, Lin met a few people at a different exit. I was disappointed to miss him, but glad I got to see some of the other cast on their last night.
Funnily enough, Lin was also at the women’s rights march that I went to a few weeks later. Again, he met a few people and again, I missed him. Third time’s the charm, right?
Getting to watch In The Heights on the closing night was incredible and something I will never forget. The atmosphere was the definite highlight. In future, I’ll definitely try to see other shows that I love on their last nights. It’s such a great way to say goodbye.
Did you see In The Heights? What’s your favourite musical? Is it still playing or has it closed?
Also, my friend Carrie vlogged the whole evening. You can watch it here: