The 20th anniversary production of Rent by URP wrapped its last show on November 20, and I’m not alone in wishing it would stick around for longer. I already wish I could see it again.
Upon entering the theatre, the stage was set elaborately, shifting from brick walls, to dingy apartment, to poster-covered walls on New York’s streets. Darren Adams, the actor playing Roger, was swinging his legs as he sat on a table on stage. Even from a distance, half an hour before the show began, I could feel his brooding permeate the seats. He’s incredibly skinny, and there were a couple of murmurs in the audience wondering if this slender guy could produce the power and raw emotion the role requires.
Have faith in the people who were cast, because the entire cast was phenomenal. I thought they’d be good, but they all exceeded my expectations. Chris Olson played Collins, a role that requires a baritone or tenor range, and knocked it out of the park. Angel, played by Kurtis D’Aoust, was also brilliantly cast.
Emily Canavan, the production’s Joanne, delivered a wonderful vocal performance. Canavan’s dance moves during “Tango: Maureen” were nicely matched by the story’s narrator, Mark (Nick Heffelfinger), who also delivered a stellar performance. Mimi (Ali Watson) beautifully captured the nuances to the role, the optimism with the hopelessness. Synthia Yusuf brought a youthful flair to Maureen, making “Over the Moon” her own and delivering one of the most enjoyable renditions of it I’ve ever witnessed.
The ensemble was just as talented as the main cast, and they had opportunities to show it off with solos throughout the show. Everyone was so talented, and not just vocally. The choreography was well-executed and the accompanying musicians were on the ball as well. The musicians even had a quadrant of the stage to themselves, amidst the organized chaos that rolled across the stage.
As assured by both Adams and director, Richard Berg, in their interviews with The Peak, “Another Day” was a standout of the evening. “Tango: Maureen,” “Seasons of Love,” “La Vie Boheme,” and “Take Me or Leave Me” were also wildly appreciated by the audience.
Of course, opening night had a couple of technical difficulties, but nothing that truly detracted from the great experience. A couple mics dropped out here and there, and a few cast members didn’t have great lighting. The audience was so caught up in the magic they didn’t seem to notice, though.
If you missed it, don’t make the same mistake twice. As they say in New York, “Forget regret. Or life is yours to miss.”