RENT Review: Kev Castle

Set in the East Village of New York City, Rent is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, “Rent” has become a pop cultural phenomenon. With songs that rock and a story that audiences of all ages can connect with.

Based loosely on Puccini’s “La Boheme”, Jonathan Larson’s Rent follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

The physical and emotional complications of the disease pervade the lives of Roger, Mimi, Tom and Angel. Maureen deals with her chronic infidelity through performance art; her partner, Joanne, wonders if their relationship is worth the trouble.

Benny has sold out his Bohemian ideals in exchange for financial gains,forgetting the bond with his former friends. Mark, an aspiring filmmaker, feels like an outsider to life in general. The way these young bohemians negotiate their dreams, loves and conflicts provides the narrative thread to this musical.

Ashley Bright (Roger) never fails to impress in the emotion that he invests in his roles and his adaptable voice is spot on, no more so than in some of the powerful ballads in “Rent”.

Tom Pinny (Mark) isn’t an actor I’ve seen before but this is an impressive introduction for, anyone like me, who has not seen this man before. The vocals are strong and the accent is consistent and accurate.

Michael Gamble (Tom) stood in last night for Craig Butterworth who unfortunately was ill, and was sadly missed, as I know that this was a role Craig had been looking forward to playing. Michael knows this role back to front as he is also the Director and Choreographer for “Rent” so naturally looked comfortable as Tom.

Kristian Cunningham (Angel), I knew would be a success in this iconic role. This is the first time that I have seen Kristian perform on stage, and he lived up to what I had expected of him. An exciting dancer and a natural singer, this role was made for Kristian to play. I was actually a bit worried the way that he leapt around and jumped off that table in those incredible boots, but this shows what a great dancer he is.Angel’s death scene was done really well, making it look as if he was rising from the table and being transported to Heaven.

Lucy Brown (Mimi) brought the sauciness to the play, and her first appearance brought the very saucy double entendre seeped song “Light My Candle” alight. Her acting in Act Two brought silence from the audience.

Holly Easter (Maureen) blew me away in this very provocative role and her voice just soared. She has a certain ease with her vocals and when she gives those big notes, WOW!

Eve Taylor (Joanne), is a lovely pairing with Holly in this coupling, and I loved their fiery duet “Take Me Or Leave Me”, plus I loved the “Tango Maureen” section with Mark.

Aaron Murray (Benny) is another actor that I have seen perform before on the Loughborough Town hall stage and this is another successful part he can add to his acting CV. It may be one of those roles in the borderline “baddie” category but I love the way this character evolves.

A big ensemble section who invade the stage at times from all entrances, keeping the audience on their toes and providing more meat to this already tasty stew.Loved the set and the way that the set was used in its’ various ways.The soundtrack is one of my favourites, including the gorgeous and harmonious “Seasons Of Love” as well as “I Should Tell You”, “One Song Glory”, “Cover You”, “Without You”, “Maureen’s Tango” and “Take Me Or Leave Me” being highlights, along with the rousing title song, “Rent”.

Musical Director Vicki Hing, assisted by Abi Parker, and their five piece band created a big sound, at times slightly swamping some of the vocals in the more louder and rockier numbers, but when it came to the ballads, you could have been fooled into thinking you were listening to a CD of these gorgeous songs.Lighting Design by Robert Bridges and a trio of sound experts, Rob Temperton and Harry Bridge make this show a treat.

Strangely not a full house last night and even more strangely I could not see anyone providing a standing ovation, but then I could not see behind my row. Do not let this put you off because this now period piece of powerful theatre is really worth seeing, so get yourself down there as there is no day like today to get your tickets.For Rent newbies and Rent-Heads alike, this is one show to see, not least for the incredibly talented cast.“Rent” is at Loughborough Town Hall until Saturday 4 April.

Original source: Kev Castle website

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