Blackfriars Theatre Opens RENT Tonight
RENT, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning landmark rock opera from creator Jonathon Larson, makes its Blackfriars Theatre premier in a radically reinterpreted and exciting production that is sure to be unforgettable. Being presented much closer to its initial concept off-off Broadway, the show will be staged in the round and will transform the Blackfriars thrust stage to a complete 360 degree circle with portions of the existing seating removed; making this production a must see event.
Larson's tale of free-spirited artists and street people in a gritty drug and AIDS plagued East Village of the early 1990s was inspired by Giacomo Puccini's opera La Boheme. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York's Lower East Side in the heydays of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of AIDS. Despite its bold setting and adult themes, RENT offers a universal message of hope, love, survival and living for today. It has become one of the most decorated and popular musicals of our time. Sadly, Larson never lived to see his triumph: He died at age 35 of an aortic aneurysm after its final dress rehearsal in January 1996.
"RENT was nominated for 10 Tony awards and won 4. It broke boundaries and conventions. We plan to do the same," says the show's co-director, J. Simmons. "We have a new format, and new ideas. This is RENT unplugged and in your face. The audience is literally on stage. That coupled with our amazingly talented cast makes this a not to be missed production!"
In addition to being the first adult production of the musical being produced in the area, this incarnation will honor the life of someone close to Blackfriars heart. "We dedicate this production to our Blackfriars family-friend, Ray Gust," says Blackfriars Artistic Director and the productions co-director, John Haldoupis. "Ray designed almost all of our logo and print promotional material for close to 30 years. He will forever be measured in our love. Godspeed."
The show stars Jimmy Boorum as Mark Cohen, Nick Faruch as Roger Davis, Tamar Greene as Tom Collins, Josh Johnson as Angel Dumott Schunard, Michael Hall as Benjamin Coffin III, Courtney Weather as Mimi Marquez and Kaitlyn Baldwin as Maureen Johnson with Janine Mercandetti at Joanne Jefferson.
Rounding out the cast of 22 are Chet Brassie, Jonathan Christiano, Sophie Esquier, Amanda Foreman, Delia Grace, Liz Lang, Brian Maxwell,Yvanna Dali Melendez, Bailey Olean, Emilie Schneider, Christina Simmons, Jake Slater, Jill Skivington and Carly Swens.
John Haldoupis and J. Simmons will co-direct. Andy Pratt serves as musical director and Kapil Dass as choreographer.
RENT is the must see and hear event of the summer and will be performed at Blackfriars Theatre (795 East Main Street, Rochester 14618) beginning tonight, July 19 and running through July 28. Performances are Tuesday, July 23 at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 24 at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 25 at 7:30 p.m., Friday's, July 19 and 26 at 8:00 p.m., Saturday's, July 20 and 27 at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday's, July 21 and 28 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $33.50 - $39.50 and available in person at Blackfriars Theatre, online at www.blackfriars.org, or by calling 585-454-1260. If available, tickets can be purchased at the door beginning one-hour prior to performance. Seating for this production is limited and unreserved. Box Office hours are Monday through Friday, 10:00 am to 2:00 p.m., and Saturday's, noon to 4:00 p.m. MasterCard, Visa, and Discover are accepted at no additional charge.
Blackfriars Theatre, a professional, not-for-profit theatre located on Rochester, NY's "Theatre Row" is located at 795 East Main Street. Parking is available on site. Handicapped seating is available. For more information regarding Blackfriars Theatre, please visit their website at www.blackfriars.org.
Photo by Dan Howell