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RENT Review

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suttonfoster
Broadway Star
joined:5/21/10
Broadway Star
joined:
5/21/10
RENT Review#1
Posted: 7/23/11 at 8:52pm
Ok, so I saw RENT today and thought I would give my personal opinion on mainly the cast.

The cast was phenomenal. Not really negative things. They sounded incredible. I don't remember that last time I actually heard an ensemble sound that great and I REALLY hope they make a new Cast Recording of this cast.

Just some notes.

Matt as Roger- Amazing. He really played this role well and showed how much pain this character is in. He sounded great too. I will admit, I don't know a bunch about vocal technique but the way he's trying to sound all rock and rollish makes me wonder if it will give him problems in the future.

Adam as Mark was amazing. Everything he did was thought out and acted and sung well. He didn't seem bored like he did in N2N in the end of his run, which I thought he should of left when Jen/Alice/Brian left. Nonetheless, he was great. I knew he would be, nothing really more to say about that.

Annaleigh as Maureen- I read everyone's reviews about her portrayal of Maureen and I have to say I LOVED her. Truly, I thought she was hilarious and wonderful. Her humor really was a relief sometimes because the show itself is sometimes really hard to handle and serious. It really says a lot about her acting skills that she can play bubbly roles like Glinda and Margo and still kill as Maureen. Also, she BELTS HER ASS OFF in Take Me.

Ariana as Mimi- This one got me. I was really expecting her to not sound good at all from all your guys reviews but I have to say there was NOTHING wrong with her as Mimi. She sounded GREAT today.

Nicholas as Collins- I'll Cover You reprise. That's all I have to say.

MJ as Angel- He was probably the biggest standout of everyone. So amazing.

It's in great shape. Go see it!
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ljay889
Broadway Legend
joined:8/4/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
8/4/04
RENT Review#2
Posted: 7/23/11 at 9:00pm
Looks like this production is amazing and great!
wickedpurple
Swing
joined:4/5/11
Swing
joined:
4/5/11
RENT Review#2
Posted: 7/23/11 at 9:17pm
I'm so glad this production is getting good reviews, I really want to go see it.
Anyone know how long the current cast will stay with the show?

I don't know if the length of their contracts is information that's available to the public so I'm sorry if this is a dumb question.

I was planning a trip to NYC in August but life got in the way and I'm thinking I'll have to wait until December.
Thanks.
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uncageg
Broadway Legend
joined:5/13/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/13/04
RENT Review#3
Posted: 7/24/11 at 11:20am
I seem to remember some people saying they didn't want to see Ariana as Mimi. I think she is kicking butt in the part. Her "Out Tonight" is really good especially on that fire escape piece.

I also love Annaleigh as Maureen. SOme people are saying she is not "sexy" enough. I think the humor she brings to it brings a different kind of sexiness. "Over the Moon" is fresh and new and she just nails it.

There are some things I wasn't crazy about but I enjoyed the solos in "Seasons of Love". A nice balance of the originals mixed with their own takes and done very well. Nicholas' "I'll Cover You-Reprise" is very very good but didn't bring me to tears. (Jesse L Martin's is the only that can do that to me!)

As an ensemble, this cast sounds very good when they are all singing together. At times you can close your eyes and swear it is the original cast. And I really like Adam's Mark. JMO's
Just give the world Love.
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anmiller07
Broadway Star
joined:11/15/07
Broadway Star
joined:
11/15/07
RENT Review#4
Posted: 7/24/11 at 9:25pm
Man, I can't wait to get up to New York to see this production, because Arianda was absolutely ghastly in the 2006 leg of the National Tour. I mean...she made me cringe anytime she had her mouth open back then, but so far I'm hearing "she's not that bad," and it has been five years so I'm guessing (hoping?) she has gotten some coaching or something since then. I still can't understand why they would re-cast her, but then I didn't understand why they did so in the first place.
Updated On: 7/24/11 at 09:25 PM
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uncageg
Broadway Legend
joined:5/13/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
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RENT Review#5
Posted: 7/24/11 at 11:53pm
I think she is one of the best things in this production and I love the way she handles coming back to life at the end.
Just give the world Love.
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LizzieCurry
Broadway Legend
joined:3/7/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/7/05
RENT Review#6
Posted: 7/25/11 at 2:06am
I didn't think she was a standout, but she certainly wasn't a disaster.
"This thread reads like a series of White House memos." — Mister Matt
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LizzieCurry
Broadway Legend
joined:3/7/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/7/05
RENT Review#7
Posted: 7/25/11 at 2:06am
*double post*
"This thread reads like a series of White House memos." — Mister Matt
Updated On: 7/25/11 at 02:06 AM
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SoonerOrLater
Broadway Star
joined:8/1/08
Broadway Star
joined:
8/1/08
RENT Review#8
Posted: 7/25/11 at 3:49am
Great to hear some thoughts, how was the staging/direction compared to the original production?

Just think yourselves lucky you didn't get 'Rent Remixed' like we did in the UK I still shudder at the memory....
Maybe I'm on nobody's side http://phdconfessions.blogspot.com/
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littlegreen2
Leading Actor
joined:1/29/11
Leading Actor
joined:
1/29/11
RENT Review#9
Posted: 7/25/11 at 4:02am
I'm very excited for this. The cast is so young and fresh and that is exactly what RENT needs.
"I will not cease from mental fight, nor shall my sword sleep in my hand: Till we have built Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land."
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LizzieCurry
Broadway Legend
joined:3/7/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
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RENT Review#10
Posted: 7/25/11 at 9:28am
"This thread reads like a series of White House memos." — Mister Matt
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beach2732
Understudy
joined:1/8/07
Understudy
joined:
1/8/07
RENT Review#11
Posted: 8/12/11 at 5:22pm
In response to "how was the staging/direction compared to the original production," I'd like to offer up a very long, detailed review. I will thoroughly compare characters, scenes, actors, and production values between the original production (as I saw live and in the B’way filmed version) and this new version.

Where to start? How about the actors? I’ll try to make this as short and sweet as possible, because I already know that this critique will be rather lengthy.

• Mark: Loved, loved, loved! Adam pulls off the right amount of geeky cuteness and was everything I ever want my Mark to be. Did he seem like an obsessed filmmaker? Not entirely, but he charms his way through this role.
• Roger: Absolutely hated. He seemed liked he didn’t want to be here. No connection with audience and no chemistry between him and Mimi whatsoever (which really hurts the production).
• Mimi: She was decent. I was worried due to all the negative reviews of her swirling about on the internet, but honestly, she was fine. She tried so hard to make a connection with Roger, but it just wasn’t there (and I blame him).
• Maureen: Finally, though many think she is miscast, I think casting directors finally got it right, and Annaleigh is the best Maureen I have seen. Everything she added and emphasized was perfect and scored tons of laughs. I also now finally believe Maureen when in “Take Me or Leave Me” she states that everyone stares and calls after her (do you really think that would happen to Idina or Eden? Come on.)
• Joanne: Great! Her voice was lovely (one of the better of the Joanne’s I’ve experienced). She and Annaleigh had such a fantastic connection and I fully believed all of their emotional journey (can they give Roger a lesson, please?).
• Benny: Such a smooth and wonderful voice. His scenes, though few, were marvelous and his lines, whether stern, threatening, or comedic, were all pulled off to great effect.
• Collins: Fair, I feel his and Angel’s connection could’ve been stronger. It felt rushed, and I think I’ve seen better pairs, though I must point out that he did deliver a moving and heartfelt “I’ll Cover You (Reprise)”
• Angel: Ahhh, Angel. I usually love you to pieces, but… I don’t think he did anything wrong. He did the best with what he was given (a lot of this goes under production values, I know, but it get’s hard to separate). Angel’s costumes were all changed for the worse, and when he is supposed to be in drag, his “wig” is just a blonde piece that seems slapped on. I don’t think they fully established the “woman” aspect (that Angel acts ladylike and prefers being a “she”), and when Mark stumbles over the use of pronouns during the funeral, it loses impact because this Angel didn’t really present himself in that way.

Songs: For the most part, everything was great and I’ll only discuss a few numbers here. The music is really what I love about Rent, and it seems to have been left in its original state--that is, expect for Christmas Bells.

• Christmas Bells has many variants performed throughout the show, and they all remained intact; however, the original Christmas Bells track was not as lucky. The song was chopped up with many lines/whole sections missing, but if you were not extremely familiar with the original (meaning, if it wasn’t your second favorite song of the show that you know every line word for word), I don’t think you would’ve noticed. I did like that it snowed a little bit every time they mentioned it was “beginning to snow,” as opposed to only snowing at the end. Nice change new version!
• Today for U didn’t seem right without the Santa suit (Sorry, but something’s just shouldn’t change!).
• I’ll Cover You: What’s the deal with the cape? I know, this should fall under production, but really, what’s the deal with the cape? Instead of a Santa suit, Angel has been wearing a jeans and a tight red jacket complete with a frilly red bow and cape. He plays with the cape throughout this piece (readjusting it to make different outfits?) and then bequeaths it to Collins who wears it proudly for the remainder of the number. Angel is supposed to be stylish, and honestly, my version of who Angel should be is too fabulous to ever wear a cape, especially this one.
• Out Tonight: My first thought was “Whoa! Look at how original they are being: They are having Mimi dance on railings a level up while wearing a blue top, as opposed to having Mimi dance on railings a level up while wearing blue pants!” Then Mimi pulled the “top” down to be a skirt which made them lose that originality (ha! though the outfit did look slightly better…)
• Another Day: I don’t know why, but this number just felt so uncomfortable.
• Santa Fe: Nice deep voice moment from Angel which was hilarious (“a pleasure cruise”), but STOP playing with levels! We’ll get into this a little more in a minute.
• Over the Moon: Annaleigh’s performance was perfect, but why was she so high up (curse those levels!)? Also, why did she plead that Joanne not forget her cowbell when she never rang it? Oh, and why were the sunglasses on a stand? That was awkward. Just let her wear them.
• Seasons of Love is performed in the same manner, but is seriously lacking a strong female soloist (the male soloist was quite excellent though!).
• Take Me or Leave Me: I was worried after seeing them perform this at Broadway in Bryant Park, but this was fantastic! Keep up the good work ladies!
• Contact was better by leaps and bounds. Thank you for getting rid of the awkward everyone-singing-under-a-parachute scene and replacing it with lively and very sexy choreography.
• I’ll Cover You (Reprise): While the talking at the funeral couldn’t have been more awkward (please don’t have people chant certain words/phrases at the same time) or unbelievable (all those heartfelt confessions/speeches just sounded fake or, in Mark’s case, didn’t seem supported by what you’ve presented), Nicholas’s emotions and voice were surperb.
• What You Own: My favorite song. Adam, we’ve already established that I loved you and your presence in this number was enough to overpower Matt’s awfulness. That being said, did we really need to be continually rotating (like on a turntable, but not) the entire number? No, we did not.

Part of what I love about Rent is the simplicity of it: actors on a pretty bare stage letting the music and the words shine. Dear new version: quit trying to drown them out with flashy video and running around the set like madmen. Let’s get into production values. What did I like? Your Christmas lights that you strung across the top of the stage, the snow in Christmas Bells, and some of the new costumes. Expect for Angel’s. You messed that up, and you messed that up good. Angel is so stylish that we see his clothes mass produced at the Gap? Hells no! His outfits were all horrible, and no self respecting self proclaiming fabulous gay man/woman would be caught dead in them. The wigs were also an issue, but I believe I already ranted enough about that. Nope-- You see, the first time I saw Rent, my friends and I went to dinner afterwards. We took separate cars and I got there late because I went to the stage door to meet the actors. I arrived at our table, flipped my camera on, and said “Look we meet Angel!” A girl that had seen the show with us then proceeded to argue with me that I hadn’t meet Angel because this was a photo of a man and Angel had been a woman. While that remains one of the funniest theatre conversations I have been a part of (and while that girl completely missed the point of the show), Angel is supposed to give off the air that he is a woman, and in this version, he did not. *Sigh*

Moving on! Let’s discuss the set. It looks like a jungle gym and the actors are children who are very eager to play on it. They are constantly running around, climbing up and down ladders, changing levels, etc., and it is all so unnecessary. Do they think their audience has ADD and won’t pay attention if they stay still for longer than 30 seconds? Yes, the original Rent used levels, but they were stationary and used in a good way. Did I forget to mention the levels all move and spin? Sorry. They do, and it’s not necessary either. Besides the levels, there was one main staging choice that I took issue with: Life Support. In the original, the Life support group in up in the loft, Roger remains on his table in the dark (in his apt), and Gordon is in front on opposite side of stage. When Gordon says “Because reason says I should’ve died” and the light rises on Roger who joins in singing with him, that moment always hit me in the gut. The new version has the life support kids scattered across the side front of the stage, Roger on his table but pulled back, and Gordon above the group, same side, and far back. I don’t know why, but this staging just made that moment lose all of its impact and was one of the let downs of the show for me.

Overall, I did enjoy going. I’ve read the reviews, and I agree that the actors seem like young children who are playing dress up in these roles and not fully owning them. Maybe in time they will get comfortable enough to take the roles on and make them their own, instead of cautiously playing what they think they should be. If you want to hear Rent live, go. If you want to experience what Rent was, watch the Broadway filmed movie version.
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michellek45
Leading Actor
joined:5/20/11
Leading Actor
joined:
5/20/11
RENT Review#12
Posted: 8/12/11 at 11:17pm
I think that one of the reasons I liked this production (and I will say I never saw the original live, but I have seen the filmed live DVD) was because some of the flaws of the original were fixed in the performances of this version, mostly relating to Roger and Maureen. I wholeheartedly disagree with beach- I thought that Matt Shingledecker really understood Roger, and he played it with an undercurrent of fear which made sense when you think about what had been happening to him for the past year. Annaleigh Ashford made Maureen actually likeable, as opposed to just sexy, which helped to explain why both Mark and Joanne would continue to go after her despite the fights in both relationships.

Adam Chanler-Berat was excellent as Mark, as everyone's been saying. Nicholas Christopher doesn't get enough praise, I think, for bringing out a more human side in Collins: you still get the crazy anarchist vibe from him, but the way how he seems so awkward and nervous around Angel is endearing. MJ Rodriguez was also excellent, as has been said before. Corbin Reid has great chemistry with Annaleigh Ashford, which helps their relationship seem more realistic, and I was actually invested in it this time around. She also isn't afraid to make Joanne a little sexier, which works when playing off Ashford. Ephraim Sykes, though he doesn't quite get me to care about Benny's "journey," is still a good Benny, and I do end up feeling sorry for him when he's trying to succeed and everyone's screaming at him.

I guess I'm in the minority, but I liked the levels, though I will say that they should have brought "Over the Moon" and "Out Tonight" down a level to make them easier to see. "What You Own" is kind of awkward with the turning of the set piece that Mark and Roger are on, and I didn't particularly like the staging there. Otherwise, I liked the way they used the moving parts and how they dangled off the ladders and such.

The costumes: a lot of the ensemble costumes didn't feel very '90s grunge, but I think that the principals' did. Mark's seemed a little too hipster for my liking, however. Joanne should have been more butch, but at least they got rid of the skirt she had on in the previews. Also differing from beach here, I liked how Angel's costumes were more androgynous rather than straight-up drag queen. It's easier to confuse the him/her this way. I always got the impression that Angel just enjoyed existed in whatever way he/she wanted to, never that she really wanted to be seen as a woman.

Perhaps I liked the things about this version that others didn't like because I have never been a fan of the book/score, and, as I said before, there were a few choices by this cast that made up for some of the problems inherent in the source material- though I'm pretty sure that it's impossible to make up for the fact that from the opening to "Over the Moon" only 3 hours have passed. I still do not like the book/score on their own, but I have to say that this production manages to transcend some of the issues and turn it into a moving piece of theater.

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shrekster224
Broadway Legend
joined:1/27/10
Broadway Legend
joined:
1/27/10
RENT Review#13
Posted: 8/13/11 at 12:08am
"Out Tonight: My first thought was "Whoa! Look at how original they are being: They are having Mimi dance on railings a level up while wearing a blue top, as opposed to having Mimi dance on railings a level up while wearing blue pants!" Then Mimi pulled the top down to be a skirt which made them lose that originality"

Wait, she wears a blue shirt now? It was more of a sparkly maroon tank top in previews with a black skirt.

And Angel's costume changes have been stated to make him look more obviously like a man. They wanted to show that the relationship between him and Collins really is between two men, and not a man and almost woman.

I loved the show. I hadn't seen it live on Broadway, but the final recording, and many other videos. The production seems very modern and fresh while still bringing the same themes and feeling into play, even if it is less gritty. Adam, Matt Shingledecker, Nick Chris, MJ, Corbin, Annaleigh, and even Arianda are all amazing. Nick's ICY Reprise is one of the best I've ever heard. Adam is LIVING Mark during the show, maybe because he really is similar to the character, I don't know, but it doesn't seem like acting when he plays the role. Matt does understand Roger, and adds many new levels to the role that help make the show fresher. Annaleigh and Corbin have great chemistry and both belt their faces in everything they sing, especially TMOLM. Arianda is a great dancer, and a better singer than she has been regarded as, and finally, MJ is a terrific Angel. He sings and dances the part SOOO well, but I think his acting is the best I've seen from an Angel (well, I am a Justin Johnson fan, haha). I also think Tamika is one of the best soloists I've heard, and the person that said she was weak, maybe you caught her on an off day? She screlted that top note like nobody's business! Mike Wartella is also great as Gordon and his other roles, and Marcus Paul James still rocks the Seasons solo.

As I've said before, I wish press videos were taking after previews started, or after the official opening. The videos are terrible representations of the show, and if they are deferring you from seeing it, think again. Don't let the videos influence you! Go see this awesome production. It's not meant to be the original, so going in with an open mind with help you enjoy it more.
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beach2732
Understudy
joined:1/8/07
Understudy
joined:
1/8/07
RENT Review#14
Posted: 8/13/11 at 12:53pm
"'Out Tonight: My first thought was "Whoa! Look at how original they are being: They are having Mimi dance on railings a level up while wearing a blue top, as opposed to having Mimi dance on railings a level up while wearing blue pants!" Then Mimi pulled the top down to be a skirt which made them lose that originality'

Wait, she wears a blue shirt now? It was more of a sparkly maroon tank top in previews with a black skirt."


Yes, you can actually watch the transition in this promo clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dusPSFO7d7s