By Chris Heide
RENT, one of the foremost shows from the late 90’s Broadway renaissance, is back for a 20th anniversary tour. Does RENT hold up to the test of time? This is the question the show strives to answer, during its recent performance at the Paramount Theater.
Ever since its Broadway debut, RENT has mesmerized audiences with its vivid and empathetic depiction of the bohemian lifestyle. With graphic imagery of drug use, sexuality and violence, RENT has continuously managed to highlight issues that are currently still rampant throughout our society. While the iconic rock opera has become increasingly well-know, especially after its feature film debut in 2007.
These themes are especially topical, in light of Trump’s presidency. Homelessness, poverty, drug addiction and loss are omnipresent in our world today. RENT is a show for the misfits- those of us who seemingly do not fit in with “mainstream” society. Individuality is praised and personal struggle is acknowledged as a necessary part of life.
For the most part, this inception of RENT is outstanding. The show is staged similarly to its original run and many of the roles are brilliantly cast.
Danny Harris Kornfeld (Mark), Bryson Bruce (Tom) and Skyler Volpe (Mimi) absolutely murder every scene they are a part of. They are dazzling, well-trained, seasoned actors and it most definitely shows throughout the entire production.
Katie LaMark and Jasmine Easler are absolutely outstanding as Maureen and Joanne. Both women possess outstanding vocal prowess and they can surely hold their own with any of the current, contemporary Broadway divas.
Outstanding performance numbers from the show include “Another Day, “Take Me or Leave Me” and, of course, “Seasons of Love”. RENT is the kind of musical that requires a high level technical proficiency when it comes to vocal abilities. Every single member of the cast processes killer pipes and a mesmerizing ability to hit the highest of high notes.
The only two characters that seemed lacking were Roger (Kaleb Wells) and Angel (Tim Ehrlich). For the bulk of the show, Roger was consistently, distractingly angry and Angel was not nearly as over-the-top as he should have been.
Overall, RENT really does hold up as a relevant, entertaining and poignant show twenty years later. Given our current chaotic culture, there really is not day but today.