Whitireia Performance Centre, 25-27 Vivian Street, Wellington
22/07/2015 - 26/07/2015
“RENT IS ABOUT A COMMUNITY CELEBRATING LIFE IN THE FACE OF DEATH AND AIDS AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY” – Jonathan Larson
The Wellington Footlights Society is proud to present their second full scale musical, Jonathan Larson’s Rent. Led by the aspiring filmmaker, Mark Cohen, Rent tells the story of an impoverished group of friends struggling to survive and create in New York’s gritty Alphabet City in the early 90’s.
Rent follows these starving bohemian artists as they strive for success and acceptance while enduring the obstacles of poverty, illness, impending gentrification during the AIDS epidemic. With its industrial set and a score that shifts seamlessly between pounding rock numbers and pop style ballads, Rent takes audiences on a thrilling and emotional experience. The group’s dreams, losses, and love stories weave through the musical’s narration to create a stunningly raw and truthful story.
Whitireia Performance Centre
July 22nd – 26th
Tickets: $28 Adult / $23 Concession (Student, Gold Card, etc.) / Groups of 10+ at $23
Tickets available now!
Rent contains mature themes including sexual references, coarse language, death and drug use.
RENT CAST & CREATIVE TEAM
DIRECTOR - Ben Emerson
MUSIC DIRECTOR - Bruno Shirley
CHOREOGRAPHER - Esther Welsh
PRODUCTION MANAGER - Abigail Helsby
STAGE MANAGER - Tessa Alderton
COSTUME DESIGNER - Lisa Kiyomoto-Fink
LIGHTING DESIGNER - Aaron Blackledge
SET DESIGNER - Marie Swanson
MAKE UP/ HAIR DESIGNER - Brittany Goss
PROP MASTER - Jason Longstaff
MUSIC ASSISTANT - Sam Burnard
1. MARK COHEN - David Young
2. ROGER DAVIS - Dave McNamara
3. TOM COLLINS - Michael Stebbings
4. JOANNE JEFFERSON - Laura Gardner
5. ANGEL DUMOTT SCHUNARD - Sean Pickersgill
6. MIMI MARQUEZ - Cassandra Tse
7. MAUREEN JOHNSON - Stacey O’Brien
8. BENJAMIN COFFIN III + SOLOIST #2 - Patrick Jennings
9. MARK’S MOM + SOLOIST #1 + HOMELESS CHORUS - Ellie Stewart
10. MR JEFFERSON + PASTOR + SQUEEGEE MAN + JUNKIE - Ed Blunden
11. MRS JEFFERSON + ROGER’S MOM + COAT VENDOR - Karen Anslow
12. STEVE + ALEXI DARLING + JUNKIE - Ruby Kemp
13. GORDON + JUNKIE - Ziyanda Matshe
14. PAUL + RESTURANT MAN + BLANKET PERSON + VENDOR - Mike Bryant
15. MIMI’S MOTHER + HOMELESS CHORUS - Catherine Gavigan
16. THE MAN + HOMELESS CHORUS - Dominic Francis
17. MR GREY + HOMELESS CHORUS - Edward Abrahamson
18. LA VIE BOHEME DANCER + POLICE OFFICER - Margaret Hill
19. LIFE SUPPORT MEMBER + JUNKIE - Darryn Woods
20. LIFE SUPPORT MEMBER + POLICE OFFICER - Gabrielle Wright
21. LIFE SUPPORT MEMBER + HOMELESS CHORUS - Brigid Boyle
22. POLICE OFFICER - Kenneth Gaffney
23. JUNKIE - Natalie Hunt
Theatre , Musical ,
Excellent ensemble work, energy, enthusiasm and talent
Review by Maryanne Cathro 23rd Jul 2015
Rent – they can’t pay it and they won’t pay it.
Rent is a story based loosely on Puccini’s La Bohème, about a group of friends surviving poverty, AIDS and gentrification in New York’s Lower East Side in the early 1990s. These are the Bohemians of the end of the Millennium; making art and making love while property developers try to take away their spaces and AIDS robs them of their future.
It is so great to finally have this piece of iconic American musical theatre here in Wellington, directed by Ben Emerson with music director Bruno Shirley and choreographer Esther Welsh. First shown in 1994, it opened on Broadway in 1996 and ran for 12 years. Jonathan Larson wrote Rent based on his own experiences of life in the Lower East Side; unfortunately he died the day before the show opened and never saw what a success it would become.
The Wellington Footlights Society is a cooperative of talented young performers, putting on the shows they want to do and we rarely get to see. Rent is a great vehicle for their talents. The stage at the Whitereia Performing Arts School on Vivian St has the space and height to carry it off.
It is also, unfortunately, a difficult space acoustically, with the audience spread widely across the front. Excellent vocals are often hard to hear over the band and important information about the plot is lost in the process. I fervently hope this imbalance will be fixed before the season goes any further, as unamplified voices and an amplified rock band do not sit well together.
Therefore it is not surprising that the musical highlights are the belting numbers and the ensemble singing. My favourite number is the soulful vocal showdown, ‘Take Me or Leave Me’ with Stacey O’Brien as Maureen and Laura Gardner as Joanne. Aretha and Ella would have been proud!
One of many beautiful ensemble moments is the opening number of Act Two – ‘Seasons of Love’. How do you describe a year? 525,600 minutes? As I look down the line of performers singing their hearts out, every face, every body is giving it their all. Likewise the street-savvy, cynical Homeless chorus with their twisted Christmas carols are delightful, convincing, physical and funny.
Do they nail it? Yes they do. It is a big, complex, emotional musical in the best tradition of modern American theatre; lots of big feelings are sung out: echoes of that operatic heritage. They capture the light and the shade of the show – get the laughs where there ought to be laughs and cause a few damp eyes in the right moments too.
All in all this is the kind of work Footlights are becoming known for: a fusion of excellent ensemble work, energy, enthusiasm and talent.
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