Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Nottingham Playhouse
Marking the musical’s 20th Anniversary “Rent” tells the story of a group of young artists struggling to survive and pay their rent in New York City’s East Village and is based on Puccini’s opera “La Boheme”.
The book, music and lyrics are written by Jonathan Larson and many of themes highlighted when it first opened in 1996 are still relevant today because it celebrates being different. While the openness of sexuality, gender and creed in the play are shown in the main to be accepted, the fight for this acceptance today goes on.
The young cast bring out the raw emotion of this wonderful modern musical, but the same can be said of the ensemble pieces as well. Take for instance the brilliant “Seasons Of Love”, allowing main and ensemble to shine together.
Billy Cullum (Mark) comes across in his character as someone you can relate to while still being that struggling artist.A magical duet with Mark and Joanne in the wonderful "Tango Maureen",a nd brilliant choreography for this one as well.
Ross Hunter (Roger) has one of those voices just made for rock opera. His relationships with flat mate, Mark as well as his romance with Mimi were totally believable. Just the bloke you could take to the pub for a pint.
Ryan O Gorman (Tom). What can I say about this man's voice. Every one of that cast could sing. This man could REALLY sing. Absolutely dripping with raw emotion as he sang the reprise of "I'll Cover You".The hairs on the back of my neck standing to attention.
Javar La’trail Parker (Benjamin Coffin III) was the hard-nosed owner demanding rent for the property and cutting their electricity.
Layton Williams (Angel) is one of the most engaging and athletic portrayers of Angel I've had the pleasure of experiencing. He is fun, exciting, his dance moves were incredible but will break your heart in his final scenes. There was an increase in the applause and cheers as he stepped up to take his well deserved bows.
Philippa Stefani (Mimi) was a sight for this old man's eyes, and what a comeback in Act Two. just when you think she had breathed her last breath........
Lucie jones (Maureen) and Shanay Holmes (Joanne) were a joy to watch as the argumentative couple. Loved their duet "Take Me As I Am"
Directed by Bruce Guthrie. He manages to create a freshness about the play which really spotlights the need to love one another, family, friends and taking people as they are
Lee Proud’s Choreography is wonderfully energetic, "Tango Maureen" and all of Angel's moves were spell-binding, as was the rest of the musical moves. No matter how energetic the choreography was, the actors just did not seem to show any sign of being out of breath - a tribute to just how fit these actors need to be.
Joe Hood is the Musical Director. The live band were really good, in places just a bit too loud, or it could be the mix of the actor's mics with the band. i love loud but with lyrics loaded with emotion as well as fun, you need to hear the words.
Lighting by Rick Fisher. An exciting lighting design gave even more life to the scenes and the section where Angel is about to die really heightens the senses to what was about to happen.
A very busy set which gave a multi levelled platform for the large cast and ensemble. Three sets of scaffolding made up the majority of the set but it worked really well for the cast to swing from and scale the ladders. With a set like this you just know that there's going to be a lot going on, and there was. Exciting to watch the cast utilising the various sections of the set.
Sound Design by Mike Walker.This is the only part of the technical section that was to cause any issues. There were mic issues and at times you were unable to hear the actors. It;s opening night so you can
forgive that. One commendation I must give though is that in Act Two there was a sound issue that caused the musical to come to a halt and then restarted. Dan Hunt is head of sound.
We knew there was something wrong and we were quickly alerted to this issue by a member of the production team and within a few minutes "Rent" was back on track. Very professional and swift action gained the crew an appreciative round of applause. Nothing could spoil this marvellous musical... or would you class it as a rock opera because there was very little in the way of speech in between the continuous songs.
Talking of which, the songs are just so good, and they were delivered with humour and passion. "Seasons Of Love", "Tango Maureen", "I'll Cover You",
"One Song Glory", "Light My Candle", "La Vie Boheme", "Rent" all memorable and so many more.
Having been a fan of this musical for a few years now, I’d heard great reviews of this 20th Anniversary production, so I already had high expectations before even stepping into the theatre, and those expectations were met.
I should just mention the programme. Packed with pictures and some information about the musical, the write, producer and director, the cast list and technical team, but at a cost of £8.00 a programme/book, this was a tad steep, but a musical of this size needs to be paid for some way, I suppose.
“Rent” is at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 20 May 2017.

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