RENT is one of my favourite musicals, so when I found out the Music Theatre Society was performing it I was excited to see their take. For those unfamiliar with the Broadway hit, RENT tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists living in New York City in the early nineties. It tackles a broad range of issues, such as drug use, HIV/AIDs, and homelessness.
The production was cast fantastically, with each of the eight main actors being given the opportunity to demonstrate their individual talents. A standout performance was Paige Peddie (playing Mimi Marquez), who gave an amazing rendition of ‘Out Tonight’ and ‘Without You’; her performance in the second act was particularly emotional. Ed Harrison’s performance as Roger Davis was also very strong throughout and the chemistry between himself and Peddie on stage was palpable, particularly during his performance of ‘Your Eyes’. Joe Holley (Tom Collins) also had a fantastic voice and gave an extremely moving performance of ‘I’ll Cover You (Reprise)’. Eloise Rust was perfectly cast as the eccentric Maureen Johnson and made a strong first impression with her performance of ‘Over the Moon’, demonstrating her impressive vocal range—the only thing missing from this number was the cowbell!
Ben Marrow superbly played the role of Mark Cohen, helping to carry the show’s narrative throughout. Curtis Anderson who played Angel gave an energetic and entertaining performance of ‘Today for Me, Tomorrow for You’ and then later brought a more emotional side to the character during ‘Contact’. Credit goes to the backstage team for the superb lighting (Chris Mee) and sound effects (Richard Grindrod) throughout the show, but most notably during ‘Contact’.
However, this number was slightly underwhelming as apart from the brief time that Anderson was on stage, the stage was empty. Having some of the ensemble onstage would have helped to elevate the performance and bring more intensity to that pivotal scene. Lukas Evans-Jones (Benjamin Coffin III) and Eilish Convery (Joanne Jefferson) also deserve credit for both giving consistent performances throughout; Convery, in particular, was a pleasure to watch, especially in ‘Take Me or Leave Me’.
As a loyal fan of RENT, I was excited to see how they would tackle my favourite song, ‘La Vie Boheme’ and they didn’t disappoint. Bringing the tables to the edge of the stage helped to make the audience feel connected to the performance, making it all that more enjoyable. The choreography was also very well put together, and credit goes to the company for their support during this number. One of my only critiques of the whole show would be that there seemed to be some issues with the microphones at times however this did not distract too much from the amazing performances of the cast. Overall, the Music Theatre Society has put together a tremendously entertaining and fabulous production of RENT.
Image credit: LUU Music Theatre Society