Fizzing with life, this production of ‘Rent’ takes you on a joyful, heart-wrenching and raw ride where one moment you’re laughing, the next you’re sobbing.
If you’re not familiar with this iconic work - the book, music and lyrics are by Jonathan Larson, a New York local who worked on the project for eight years before it made it to stage.
Even though it is thought-provoking, well-written and filled with catchy musical numbers – every version of this show depends on the chemistry of the cast and the commitment of the production team to a unified vision. In this instance, both are exceptional and the show soared off the stage and into the hearts of the audience.
Directed by Shaun Rennie and produced by Lauren Peters, it was obvious there was an incredible amount of passion and dedication poured into this project.
Rarely do you see such a connected cast – the energy on stage was electric, everyone hit their cues, vocals were off-the-charts impressive and the solid acting landed every line. It would be hard to highlight any single performer as each person brought something unique to the stage. But what was most notable was the amazing connection the cast had with each other with the feeling they had been working together for years, rather than mere months.
Image © Pia Johnson
The live orchestra situated behind the stage made the music fill all the spaces and beautifully supported the performers as they sang.
The stage design was smart, using height and movement to great effect – it drew the audience in to the action on stage and allowed them to almost feel like they were in the East Village in the late ‘80s. Costumes, hair and make up felt authentic, a realistic depiction of the fashion of the time – for all the characters.
The subject matter was handled with sensitivity and honesty, with a flutter of feisty activism simmering underneath. ‘Rent’ has something to say, and it is not shy about sharing the hardships and bleakness of AIDS, drug addiction, living in poverty and trying to stay true to your purpose while trying to stay alive.
Ending with a standing ovation and two curtain calls, this production of ‘Rent’ blew the roof off the Playhouse Theatre by simultaneously invoking heartbreak and devastation juxtaposed with passion, hope and a gleeful joy. Don’t miss it.