BWW Reviews: RENT Shares Love Onstage at the Actors Company
On January 25th, 1996, a brand new musical called "RENT" opened its doors for the very first time and was unlike anything ever seen before. Seventeen years ago, it was a show that revolutionized theatre. Today, "RENT" is still sung and performed by thousands in theatres all over the world. It has, without a doubt, become a soaring success.
And though so many of us have seen it countless times, its creator, Jonathan Larson, would never live to see his work come to life as he died of an aneurysm in the early hours of its opening night. But I know he would have loved its current production dedicated to him which is now playing at the Actors Company, directed and produced by Rowan Sutherland with Musical Director Melissa Sky Eagle, and Choreographer Marcus S. Daniel.
Set in New York's gritty Alphabet City, "RENT" follows a year in the lives of eight young bohemians, dealing with the hardships of AIDS, poverty, homosexuality, death, hate, homelessness, and love. With a talented ensemble cast in which members trade off in the lead roles for some performances, I will sing the praises of those performing on opening night. But take it from me, whatever performance you see will be just as amazing given the talent in the cast.
First I must mention the outstanding ensemble number "La Vie Boheme" with perfectly executed choreography and amazing musical harmony with each and every voice combining in ways that made the music rise up to the heavens. Marisa Zakaria, the soloist in "Seasons of Love" was outstanding with all the charisma and talent needed to shine in any role onstage. I am sorry to have not seen her in the role of Maureen which she will play at certain performances.
But the Maureen I did see, Brittany Carriger, along with her partner Joanne played by Hayley Silvers, performed the show-stopping "Take Me or Leave Me" raising the bar on character and harmony for the rest of the show. The audience was spellbound and the applause afterwards was well-deserved and heartfelt for their soul-barring performances.