Wednesday, 10 December 2014

"RENT" at Bilborough College

I have been going to see the annual Bilborough College production for the last three years and every year gets better and more professional, and this year is no different, in fact it is the best production Bilborough College have staged.Apart from the niggly sound problems in places where it was a little difficult to hear the singers over the live music, this has to be the most polished  show I have seen here.

It will always be an issue when the live band is at the back of the theatre and the stage is at the front, because depending on where you sit, the sound to singer ratio will vary and the only way that can be resolved is to have the band where the singers are. The recorded backing track music though worked well with the vocalists because there was that option to reduce the backing track volume if needed.

That tiny criticism aside I can truly say that I really enjoyed "Rent". It has always been one of my most liked musicals with a  great storyline which, although is bleak in parts is proper true grit. Dealing with death, homelessness, Aids, poverty, promiscuity, transvestism and drugs it's no Oscar Hammerstein feel good production but it's good to have that dark alternative.

The cast really got to grips with the sometimes intricate melodies and key changes and there were some really strong vocals from the likes of Dan Scott as Roger Davis, who also plays guitar in the musical and does so left handed. He shows real passion when he sings to his on stage girlfriend, Mimi Marquez,played by Catherine Davies.

Marina Papadopoulis as Maureen Johnson really shows off her vocal abilities with the quasi comical "Over The Moon" and Joel Walker as Mark Cohen, the young film maker and the narrator throughout managed to keep that Noo Yoik accent throughout so well.

There is a lot of comedy in "Rent" mostly provided by Angel, the transvestite lover of  Tom Collins, but there is a very emotional section where Angel dies in Collins' arms. Both parts played superbly by George Dawes (Angel) and Harkiran Sahota (Collins).

Joanne Jefferson, the lesbian lover of Maureen, is very charismatically played by Ruth Paige and also shows off her vocals to the best of her ability when duetting with Joel on "Tango Maureen", just one of the many musical highlights in this musical.

Gareth Ellis completes the main characters playing Benny, the landlord of the property they are not paying rent for.

You can really feel the emotion in songs like "Seasons Of Love", probably the best known song from the musical and this received the loudest applause, apart from the final bows. Although the songs may not be so well known there really are some wonderful modern gems in there. Songs like "One Song Glory", the double entendre laced "Light My Candle", "Santa Fe", "I'll Cover You" and "Take Me Or Leave Me".

The sets are sparse, which ties in well with the struggling lifestyle of the young Bohemian artists of "Rent", but this also means that when there are scene changes, these are done with the minimum of fuss and also means that there are no distractions from the story and actors and keeps the action moving smoothly.Ably directed by Harris Allan

This modern musical is well worth going to see at Bilborough College and you can still just about get tickets for Thursday 11th and Friday 12th December 2014.

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