National Operatic & Dramatic Association
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17th September 2015


Gatepost Theatre Company


The Guildhall Theatre, Derby

Type of Production



Chris Collington

Musical Director

Emily Marshall-Sims


Stephanie Wright, Laura Howard


Author: Joyce Handbury

Rent is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson loosely based on Puccini’s opera La Boheme. It is set in New York in the 1990’s and tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive under the shadow of HIV and AIDS. There were some incredible performances from all of the main characters backed up by a terrific ensemble. Mark, the narrator and aspiring filmmaker, was wonderfully played by Jon Dawkins. His endearing portrayal along with a great voice and great acting was sublime. Simon Collington impressively demonstrated both his superb singing and acting talents as the somewhat tortured rock musician and Mark’s room-mate. Finding love and displaying a great ‘chemistry’ were Luke Grainger as Collins and cross-dressing Angel played by Daniel Collington. Luke’s terrific singing voice was ideally suited for the role which he played with such tender sensitivity it was just perfect and Daniel with his stunning poise and elegance, well what can one say, ‘she’ was just stunning as were ‘his’ outfits (loved the yellow boots) and what another, amazing singing voice! Richard Pearson gave a strong and commanding performance as Benny, the landlord trying to evict the homeless from his property. He offers a deal to Mark and Roger saying they can officially remain ‘rent-free tenants’ if they convince Maureen to cancel her protest. Which nicely brings me to the principal ladies of the cast and what a splendiferous array of talent they all displayed. Mimi was brilliantly played by Laura Howard. She has an incredible singing voice and is capable of singing not only with great fervour and passion but also with tender sensitivity. Two other great performances came from Josephine Pearson as lawyer Joanne, and Gemma Ryan as Maureen, who recently dumped Mark and is now the girlfriend of Joanne. Josephine was superb as Joanne and what a fabulous singing voice she has and Gemma certainly knows how to flaunt herself and seductively strut about a stage - an awesome pairing. All the principals exuded confidence and gave compelling and convincing performances and were brilliantly supported by those in minor roles and indeed by the whole ensemble. An innovative set made up entirely of doors proved to be most effective and together with imaginative choreography, good lighting and a superb small band all added to make this a truly thought provoking and captivating show. It was obvious that a great deal of time and hardwork on behalf of everyone involved had gone into this production and congratulations must go to them all and especially to the new production team of Chris Collington and Emily Marshall-Sims. It was a huge challenge and they certainly “seized the day”.