It’s no secret that RENT is my favourite musical of all time. I have listened to the 1996 Soundtrack since my college days and it continues to pull at my heartstrings with its emotive account of Bohemian life in East Village, New York around 1989-1990. Jonathan Larson’s much-loved musical is a passionate rock musical loosely based on Puccini’s opera La Boheme.
RENT’s score captures the heart and spirit of a generation of artists living in the shadows of the HIV/AIDS crisis of the late ’80s. It is a reflection of falling in love, finding your voice and living for today. The musical first opened on Broadway in 199 and became a winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pultizer Prize for Drama. The musical was written by the incredible Jonathan Larson, who tragically died the night before RENT‘s Off-Broadway premiere, however, it’s the success of this musical that makes it an absolute must watch for every theatre-goer.
Leicestershire based theatre company Christchurch Theatre Club take on RENT with its strong subject themes that take you through 525600 minutes in the life of friends. Recognized for their polished performances, RENT is no different! There’s a real buzz about this production as it’s one the Director is passionate about and it oozes that! Christchurch will show you the professionalism level that amateur dramatic companies can reach on such a smaller budget.
RENT is known for the relationships between one another that have been intertwined into this group of friends. The Director and Choreographer Michael Gamble has certainly worked on creating believable relationships in a musical that does flow quite quickly.
The characters in this musical are quite eccentric and collectively contribute really interesting sub-plots to the storyline. Kristian Cunningham does not disappoint in his take on the very flamboyant but classy individual that Angel is. His own performance and personal influence on the character is flawless. Cunningham’s presence in the show is generally comical but there is a real warmth and sentimental value to the entire storyline. He managed to take what he knew of Angel’s character and create something new and exciting with it.
His relationship with Collins, played by Michael Gamble (due to Craig Butterworth taking ill- I hope he’s better soon!) steps in to set the stage for the LGBT community with her heartwarming partnership. It’s a real poignant reflection of gay relationships being represented on stage that is acted with a genuine connection with both of the actors. The audience is drawn into them and it gives you goosebumps as we witness Angel be seized by the evil AIDS virus. Gamble’s deeply felt rendition of I’ll Cover You silences the auditorium.
Along with them are a fantastic leading company too. Holly Easter brings to life the outrageous Maureen with big vocals to boot too! Her rendition of Over the Moon was exceptionally rememberable from the performance. On her arm is her dedicated and controlling girlfriend Joanne, played by Eve Taylor. Taylor has incredible lyrics and brings a real warmth to her vocal tones that I didn’t expect from the character. Their relationship has a real feisty characteristic about it that the ladies execute well to the audience.
Documenting their year in the life is filmmaker Mark Cohen played by Tom Pinny who plays his character well. Ash Bright takes on Roger Davis with superb vocals and a real thought into his moody/depressive characteristics.
Lucy Brown executes the desperation and vulnerability of Mimi Marquez. Her big number Out Tonight is a standout and shows her vocal ability to the full.
RENT is no doubt a musical with so much to give a theatre lover. If you aren’t a RENT head before the performance, you certainly will be after seeing what the Christchurch Theatre Club have done with it! The finale was a firm reminder of how emotional the entire show is. The company have done an excellent job with such a brave choice for a musical production such as RENT which commands you to give it a go before making a judgement.
Original source: Carpe Diem Emmie website