Rent’s 20th anniversary is here


Is Broadway a little too far and a little too expensive for you? Were you even born when Rent hit the musical scene 20 years ago? Never fear, fans of musical theatre: URP (formerly Uncle Randy Productions) has got you covered. For one week, November 15–20, URP has assembled what director Richard Berg called, “One of the strong[est] casts of any show we’ve ever done.”

Both Berg and the production’s lead, Darren Adams, spoke to The Peak to give us all a little taste of Broadway before they light up the stage at North Vancouver’s Centennial Theatre. They’ve been rehearsing for months — Berg’s favourite part of the staging process — while Adams is super stoked to step into the big shoes other actors have left for him.

For many people here in Metro Vancouver, seeing Rent has been a distant dream, despite there having been tours and other almost-local tours of the production. Berg has been able to see not only the original production, but the Canadian tour, and the original Broadway cast tour when they visited Seattle several years ago. Meanwhile, Adams has never been able to see a live production of the show, so he is going make the role of Roger his own. “It’s kind of a pros and cons sort of thing,” he said. “I don’t have anything to compare myself to other than the recorded tracks [. . .] I’ve known the show inside and out forever.”

It’s safe to say that Adams is a fan. Berg is as well, although his love for the show is more nuanced. Despite being a director of musical theatre, Berg admitted that, “I’m one of those odd people in musical theatre, in that there are more musicals that I dislike than I like [. . .] I tend to be drawn to the more rock/pop-based ones and the ones that are more performance energy-focused, as opposed to heavy plot-driven ones.”

Rent has always been one of those musicals that most people enjoy, and that a lot of people fall in love with. On the characters, Adams said that “Collins and Angel are kind of everyone’s favourite characters . . .” Adams’ single favourite is Collins and, despite the fantastic original performance by Jesse L. Martin on Broadway (and in the movie), the production’s own Chris Olson “does an amazing job as well.”

Berg and Adams also agreed on their favourite number, both overall and from their own production. “Another Day” tells the story of Mimi finally convincing Roger, as put by Adams — a guy who’s been “going through a lot over the past year or so up until the point of the show [. . .] all the demons that he’s wrestling with” — to get out there and start living again. She convinces him that there is positivity and life even when you’re diagnosed with AIDS which, if you’ve seen the musical or know the story, is an integral plot of the show.

The scene “is one of the strongest in our production,” Berg noted. He added, “[Adams]’s a very gifted performer and does a phenomenal job in this show, but that’s a number where he really shines.”

Don’t miss your chance to catch Rent. Who knows when it will come back, and a 20th anniversary edition is bound to be extra special. More information at URP and tickets at Centennial Theatre.  

Students get a discount: $36 instead of $44 for regular shows November 16–20, or $28 for the preview performance on November 15.