5 Questions with Reed LoRenzo Shannon, who will portray "Sonny" in North Carolina Theatre's Upcoming Production of "In the Heights"
North Carolina Theatre, the region's premiere nonprofit professional theatre, is gearing up for its first production of the 2018-2019 theatre season. Starting the season is Lin-Manuel Miranda's In the Heights, which opens on October 16th at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts and runs through the 21st.
This show, from the creator of Hamilton, tells the universal story of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood – a place 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. It’s a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind.
And, helping to bring this story to life are several performers. We were lucky enough to get an interview with one of them: Reed LoRenzo Shannon, who will portray Sonny in the show. We asked Reed five pressing questions, which he answers below.
What do you think is the most relevant and modern about this show?
When asked this tough question, Reed gave us a rather profound answer. He said, "I think the element of community and the love that everybody has for one another is the most relevant, not only because we still see this in today's society, but because we could use more of it, and if people see this show, maybe it will impact how they interact with people to make the world a better place."
What is your role and what have you learned from playing it?
Reed was more than happy to get into specifics about his exciting character. He told us that Sonny is "a fun-loving, low-key activist who's on a mission to make the hood a better place for himself and those who will come after him."
And, when it comes to what Reed has learned from his portrayal, he says, "I've learned that not everything in life has to be as bad as it seems at the beginning. Hard work brings change." From this statement, it appears the character and his story have impacted Reed and will impact the audiences who see the show as well.
How does the show compare, in your opinion, to the very-popular Hamilton?
These days, everyone seems to have Hamilton on the brain. Reed took a comical approach to discussing how these two shows with a common creator compare.
While he admitted the two do have some similarities, he was also quick to point out the differences. "For starters," he said, "one of the biggest differences is that In the Heights is set in modern day, so you won't be seeing George Washington rolling through the bodega."
Touching on the similarities, he added that "the rap skills [in both shows] are killer!"
If you could play any other character in the show, who would it be and why?
This question is always a tough one for actors who are immersed in their characters. Thankfully, though, Reed answered it easily, explaining he would like to play a character called "Benny."
"That character," Reed said, "is one of my all-time favorite characters in any show on Broadway. " He goes on to relate that he has been a fan of the show since he was 12 and that he "can't get through the original cast recording without performing Benny for myself in the mirror."
What do you think audiences will love most about this production?
For this final question, Reed got back to the heart of what this production is all about. He said, "I think audiences will love the feeling of family in the show. It will bring back a feeling of love that we’ve been lacking in this country lately, and I think it will show a lot of people what can be done if we work together! "
From the sound of it, In the Heights has a message we all could use at this point in time.
Get your tickets while you can, and stay tuned for more cast interviews!
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