The best comedy of the night comes from Michelle Lauto, now a red-headed Ado Annie, and her partner in crime, Will Parker, most charmingly played by Aaron Umsted. I’ve long thought Lauto to be a Broadway-quality performer who just needs the right chance, and her sophisticated vocal treatment of Ado Annie’s comic songs make that only more clear. It’s funny and it’s dignified. No mean feat.
Michelle Lauto and Jennie Sophia in Oklahoma!
Photo by Gretchen Kelley
Tears were dampening the face of actress Michelle Lauto during the opening-night bows Tuesday night of “In the Heights,” as produced by the Porchlight Music Theatre in Chicago and featuring a truly wonderful performance from Lauto as restless Vanessa.
Michelle Lauto already has a non-Equity Jeff Award nomination under her belt but feels like a real discovery as Vanessa, Usnavi’s love interest yearning to break free from her home.
Michelle Lauto makes equally fine work of Vanessa, who longs to escape Washington Heights to find new opportunity and break away from her alcoholic mother. Lauto has a powerful voice and particularly impresses on Vanessa’s heart-wrenching solo “It Won’t Be Long Now.”
Michelle Lauto is splendid as the feisty and restless Vanessa