Tuesday, May 08, 2007

RENT - The Paramount

The Paramount
May 8, 2007 – May 13, 2007
Tickets and Information

Jonathan Larson’s hit musical, RENT, is a classic in its own time. Since its premier in early 1996, RENT has captivated America’s attention with its rock-opera style and its apropos subject matter. Dealing with issues all-too prevalent in Larson’s own life, his musical tackles the issues of AIDS, homophobia, bohemianism, homelessness and the constant struggle to pay rent while never selling out and betraying one’s ideals. Larson himself never saw his musical come to full fruition. He died in his apartment on January 25, 1996; ten days before his birthday and only days from the premier. His autobiographical musical, Tick-Tick…BOOM!, chronicles the trials and tribulations he went through while trying to write RENT including his best friend and roommate being diagnosed with AIDS. In RENT, Larson’s vision of a modern adaptation of Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme comes to life with a vivaciousness rarely attempted on stage.

As an ensemble, this cast in incredibly tightly-knit. The excitement and power they provide and elicit is spectacular. Harley Jay (playing Mark Cohen) provides an unbelievable performance. His originality and his energy shine through and visibly energize everyone on stage. Warren G Nolan, Jr. (playing Tom Collins) also stands out, bringing up in himself emotions strong enough to draw them out of each audience member.

Joan Marcus, 2006

Michael Greif’s direction of RENT brings forth originality hard to come by with such a well-known musical only in its eleventh year of existence. Keeping true to Larson’s vision yet creating his own vision as well, Greif finds a middle ground on which to walk, allowing some movement in inspiration and flow. Augmented in this by Tim Weil (Music Supervision and Arranger) and Jared Stein (Keyboard and Conductor), Larson’s music takes on a life of its own. Bringing the tempo up substantially from the original conduction, one can feel overwhelmed by it but not in an extreme. The speed and flow is consistent and keeps the audience on its toes. Also making its presence known and welcomed, Blake Burba’s lighting design is an absolute work of art. The precision of each transition and the magic of each effect are captivating.

As popular as it is and as quoted as it is by high schoolers and adults alike, RENT still has the power to move an audience. Jonathan Larson’s message is as readily received as ever, if not even more so today. Bringing modern rock, Broadway-styled lyrics and music and the updated adaptation of Puccini’s classic operatic story, RENT, quite literally, has something for everyone.

Review by Nigel Andrews

No comments: