Rent, the Broadway musical by Jonathan Larson, has been adored by critics and theatre goers for over 20 years, and on Thursday 13th February 2014 it finally made its way to the golden beaches of Bournemouth in concert form.
Rent focuses on a group of eight friends in New York City, struggling to cope with life, love and loss, in addition to HIV and AIDS.
The evening at the Bournemouth Pavilion saw a strong cast of 13 sing their hearts out to well-known show tunes such as ‘Seasons of Love’ and ‘La Vie Boheme’ without the aid of many props or a set, providing the performers with a greater platform to work with using nothing but their raw talents.
Stand out vocal performances came from ensemble member Beth Humphries, while Lisa-Marie Holmes also shone as Joanne Jefferson. Rory Taylor, starring as lead male Roger Davies, was runner up in ‘Superstar’, the recent TV show searching for the lead in the arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Likewise, Mykal Rand’s rendition of ‘I’ll Cover You – Reprise’ following his partner Angel’s death was heart wrenching and passionate, bringing tears to the audience’s eyes.
It could be said Kerry Ellis, an actress who shot to fame following her work with Brian May and her role as Elphaba in ‘Wicked’, was an unnatural choice for the role of erotic dancer Mimi Marquez. However, she portrayed Mimi as strong and independent throughout, making the role her own, avoiding the persona of a vulnerable drug addict that many others have depicted.
Despite the morbid subject genre, Ian Stroughair brought the stage to life in the role of Angel Dumott Schunard, a transvestite musician with a lust for life and a belief in true love. It is clear that in this particular production Angel’s presence is felt long beyond his death, teaching the other characters as well as the audience about the value of true friendship, ultimately bringing the characters together at the end.
The choreography was simple and effective for a concert version of the production, and only used where absolutely necessary. Meanwhile, the band sought to refashion the music in order to make it more appropriate to modern audiences, using techno sounds and a heavy use of electric guitars, demonstrating exactly how the musical is still relevant to audiences today.
Many audience members took to Twitter during the interval and after the show. Stacey Woods said “Omg @RentinConcert is amazing!” whilst John-Victor said “Rent is literally my favourite musical of all time, it means a lot to me. Thanks @RentinConcert @kerryjaneellis1 for such a great show!”
The show received a standing ovation during its finale. Therefore, it could be easily believed that ‘Rent in Concert’ would have made the late Jonathan Larson proud, knowing that his musical masterpiece still touches the hearts of audiences in America and beyond 20 years after its debut.