RENT

Date 10th October 2019
Society Wallasey Musical Theatre Company
Venue The Gladstone Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Donna Dale
Musical Director Trish Gaskell
Choreographer Emma Humphreys
Producer Donna Dale

Report

Author: Joanne Rymer

Rent

Gladstone Theatre

10/10/19

 

 

Rent is 20 years young and still rocks effectively in this sparkling enthusiastic production. Cleverly played out on a scaffold design set (Donna Dale & Steve Dale) that invokes the grimy glamour of New York. This gritty update of Puccini’s “La Bohème” follows seven struggling artists who live in a squat in New York’s East Village of the late 1980s early 1990s.

Rent is based on the music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson who sadly passed just before its musical debut on Broadway. Larson’s untimely death added an extra aura of emotion to a show that already had a cult factor. There is a school of thought that feels had he been able to, Larson would have kept working on RENT through previews and performances. However that’s not to detract from its very obvious pleasures, an inventive, intricate score and a whole lot of heart.

A committed, talented cast do an awful lot to disguise the flaws in Larson’s Rent. Costumes were spot on, depicting the struggle of these young bohemians living in the big city. Rent is definitely about sex drugs and the intimate lives of the LGBTQ community, living in the aids crisis era, and you captured that splendidly. Great choreography work from Donna Dale and Emma Humphreys, well supported musically by Trish Gaskell. The energy does not fade right through to the touching and rather unexpected ending.

This original musical holds up because it’s about people, but it’s about more than that. Amidst the poverty and homelessness there is a longing for something better; love, hope and friendship. Rent covers the passage of one year as in its big hit, Seasons of Love, “Five Hundred 25 thousand 600 minutes: how do you measure, measure a year?"

Larson’s plot has the seemingly doomed exotic dancer Mimi (Sara Haynes) ravaged and addicted, she falls in love with Roger, a recovering addict himself, (Chris Doyle) who eventually reciprocates her affection. Great sensitive performance here from Chris, well done. Their relationship is a volatile one, affecting all inhabitants in the squat. Sharing the squat is Mark (Jack Parry) a rich Jewish kid running from his parents watching life through the lens of his 16mm movie camera. Former friend Benny (Antony Pude) has found success and ruined their friendship by renaging on a promise not to collect rent from the prior year. A fine performance here from Antony, well done. Collins (Kriss Hubbard) their gay anarchist professor friend is mugged as he waits below the apartment. Cross-dressing drag artist Angel (John Sprung-Murphy) finds Collins, cares for his injuries, and ignites a relationship. The tender ballad they sing to each other, I’ll Cover You, is a lovely moment in the show. Fine individual performances here from both actors.  Feel I should mention Kriss Hubbard who excelled as Collins truly believable performance

Our other lovers Joanne (Hayley Dale) and Maureen/Moe (Ciera Evans) belt out "Take Me or Leave Me." are funny in "Tango: Maureen," and Moe couldn't be more entertaining in her "Over the Moon" number with her crazy antics, sexy moves (moooves), and great vocals. The audience mooing in unison with Moe was a highlight; a great performance Hayley well done.

Rent is part tender love story and part testament to how love and hope can blossom in the most unforgiving and hostile environment, after two decades Rent remains a solid musical classic

Director Donna Dale knew what she wanted for this production, it is well-cast, with enthusiastic talented actors/singers congratulations to you all for an evening of great entertainment.

 

Joanne Rymer

NODA

16/10/19