The Boardman Bugle

“Rent” at Playhouse Square impresses

Matthew Ellis, Entertainment Coordinator

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The Tony Award Winning rock musical with book and music by the late Jonathan Larson came through Cleveland’s Connor Palace for it’s 20th Anniversary Tour in late March for the first time since 2009.

“Rent” became a cultural phenomenon when it opened on Broadway in 1996, telling the stories of eight friends living in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, struggling with inevitable death, love, and creating honest art. The musical became famous for portraying, gay and lesbian characters, as well as it shedding light on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the late 1980s.

In the 20th Anniversary Tour that came to Connor Palace, the actors and actresses either recently graduated college or came off smaller productions to perform in the touring production.This continues the tradition “Rent” started in 1996, providing young aspiring performers access to large scale productions.

This relatively young and inexperienced cast, while not perfect, did considerable justice, with a timeless musical, and a rather difficult score. A highlight of the show was the character Tom Collins and his relationship with a drag queen, Angel. While I felt chemistry was present throughout, their relationship was particularly intimate.

Another character who stood out was Mark, a filmmaker who struggles with taking a job working for a magazine or finishing his own ‘Masterpiece” home movie. While one of the shortest songs in the musical “Halloween”; is one of the most relatable, and genuinely haunting songs in the show.

Even though, it is the 20th anniversary of the opening of “Rent”, the musical maintains relevancy, from the timeless songs written two decades ago, to the the 20 year olds performing in it today.

Boardman High School
“Rent” at Playhouse Square impresses