Life may be short — live for today, but be involved with and supportive of others in your life. Allow yourself to love and to live with passion… …
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Life may be short — live for today, but be involved with and
supportive of others in your life. Allow yourself to love and to
live with passion…
Young artists live in a New York East Village loft, without
heat, electricity or money for rent. But there are pluses if you
“RENT,” Jonathan Larson’s powerful Pulitzer Prize rock musical,
presented in its first locally produced professional production,
plays through Oct. 17 at Town Hall Arts Center with an energetic
young cast — gifted with fine voices — and a live band.
Nick Sugar directed and choreographed the musical, which also
won four Tony Awards in 1996. Larson based his work roughly on
Puccini’s opera, “La Boheme,” and the connection is recognizable
throughout for opera lovers. The scourge was tuberculosis in
Puccini’s time and in the 20th century, it’s AIDS.
The composer also incorporated elements of his own life at the
time, when he was working at a restaurant to pay his own rent.
Sadly, he died the day before the show opened in previews.
Sugar says in his director’s notes that seeing that original
cast perform in New York changed his life. “RENT spoke to my soul
and inspired me to continue in theater.”
By staging “RENT” in Town Hall’s small theater, Sugar gives an
audience an entirely different experience than that at the large
Buell, where the Broadway tours played. There, actors become part
of a pattern rather than individuals, each with a story. It’s
indeed a winner in this venue, where Tina Anderson creates a set
with steel scaffolding and a few tables to contain the parallel
stories that move through this weathered city block.
Narrator Mark Cohen, a filmmaker who is recording East Village
life, serves as narrator. Mark Cohen portrays this intense
communicator convincingly and Russell Mernagh, who plays his
AIDS-stricken songwriter/roommate Roger, is a most welcome addition
to the local theater scene after a star debut as Joseph in “Joseph
and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” last summer at Candlelight
Dinner Theatre. His voice has power and he can act.
Anna Gibson is his Mimi, alternately strong and frail. The group
of friends includes Ryan Belinak as the intellectual Tom Collins,
Danny Harrigan as Angel, a transvestite whose positive outlook is
contagious and Amanda Earls as activist Maureen. Her performance of
“Over the Moon” is worth the price of a ticket. Her lover Joanne is
portrayed by Ashleigh-Amber Harris, while Matt Fontaine is
landlord/former roommate Benny.
Others, who play several parts: Traci Kern, Rob Janzen, Heather
Fritton, Alaina Reel, Benjy Schirm, Cameron Stevens and Chris
Trimboli. Voices, directed by Donna K. Debreceini, blend into an
effective whole in big numbers such as “Seasons of Love,” but each
voice is solo quality.
We commend Town Hall for presenting this edgy, but most
worthwhile production. It is said by many to have changed American
musical theater forever.
Due to adult language and situations, it is rated R. It’s a
“don’t miss” for adults and older teens.
If you go:
“Rent,“ by Jonathan Larson plays through Oct. 17 at Town Hall
Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St., Downtown Littleton. (Rated R).
Performances: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays; 2 p.m.
Sundays. Tickets: $18 to $36. 303-794-2787 ext. 5; www.townhallartscenter.com.
Town Hall, in keeping with the Broadway tradition established by
“Rent,” will offer 10 tickets for $10 one hour before each
performance to make the play more accessible to poor young
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