Review: RENT at FMCT / The Hjemkomst Center

Production runs through Monday July 1st

By: Jun. 25, 2024
Review: RENT at FMCT / The Hjemkomst Center
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Review: RENT at FMCT / The Hjemkomst Center

Rent, the cherished and award-winning musical by Jonathan Larson, remains a timeless piece of theatre. Inspired by La bohème, it explores the lives of impoverished young artists striving to create meaningful lives in Lower Manhattan’s East Village. Set against the vibrant backdrop of Alphabet City’s bohemian culture during the HIV/AIDS crisis, Rent tells a poignant story of resilience and love.

Tragically, Larson passed away before witnessing the Broadway triumph of his creation, which has since become a cultural phenomenon. Local audiences have waited almost a decade to experience the show again, and the wait has proven to be well worth it.

In conversation with Director and Choreographer Patrick Kasper, he shared his motivation for staging Rent now. "I felt it was crucial to bring Rent to a new generation, highlighting the struggles of the characters during the HIV/AIDS crisis. We engaged a speaker and conducted extensive research to foster empathy and a deeper understanding of the story. My aim was to offer entertaining yet thought-provoking theater, appealing to both newcomers and longtime fans with fresh creative choices while staying true to the narrative."

Kasper expressed his gratitude to the FMCT team: “I want to extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the staff and administration at FMCT. They provide a supportive environment for producing meaningful art.”Review: RENT at FMCT / The Hjemkomst Center

The performance was elevated by a talented pit orchestra including Jason Carlson, Jacob Carlson, John Juhl, Nicole Kallod, Karen Morrison, and Doug Neill. Scenic Designer Rick Lewis and Lighting Designer Judy Lewis crafted a set and lighting scheme that brought the FMCT stage to life, creating an immersive atmosphere. Costume Designer Gina Bar-El captured the gritty essence of 1990s New York.

Special recognition goes to the co-music directors Daniel and Katie Damico. Their contribution added a vibrant energy to the production.

Chris Taylor delivered a stellar performance as Mark. His dynamic interactions with Roger, played by Zachary Lutz, particularly shone in numbers like "Rent," "Tango: Maureen," and "What You Own."

Zachary Lutz, whom I have admired since his role in MSUM’s Tommy (2017-2018), was compelling, especially in his scenes with Mimi (Abigail Vogeler). Lutz excelled in songs such as "Rent," "Another Day," "I Should Tell You," and "Without You."

Malik Smith dazzled as Angel, not just because of the sparkly dress. His chemistry with Collins (JJ Daniels) added emotional depth to the production. Smith’s renditions of "Today 4 U" and "I'll Cover You" were particularly memorable.

Review: RENT at FMCT / The Hjemkomst Center

JJ Daniels, making a welcome return to the stage after a two-year hiatus, made the role of Collins his own. His performances in "I'll Cover You," "Santa Fe," and the tear-jerking "I'll Cover You (Reprise)" were standout moments.

Abigail Vogeler’s portrayal of Mimi was captivating. Her range and stage presence, evident in "Light My Candle," "Out Tonight," and "Another Day," showed a stark contrast to her previous role in Hello Girls.Review: RENT at FMCT / The Hjemkomst Center

Liz Wilhelmi excelled as Joanne, showcasing her versatility from her sass in the tango to her vocal prowess. Her performances in "Tango: Maureen," "We're Okay," and "Take Me or Leave Me" resonated with the audience.

Clayton Perala was a joy as Benny. Known for his vocal talents, he impressed with "Rent" and "You'll See," and his solo in "Seasons of Love" was breathtaking.

Kristina Erickson’s surprise entrance as Maureen, particularly her rendition of "Over the Moon," was a highlight of the show.

John Langdahl as Steve also deserves praise for this performance as Steve on Will I”

Cord Redding as The Man/Gordon, also did a wonderful job. Redding has quickly become a favorite local performer.

The entire cast delivered exceptional performances and harmonies, notably in the opening of Act 2 with "Seasons of Love." The solos by Clayton Perala and Grace Magstadt gave me chills.

With every show sold out and even an additional performance added, this production of Rent is a must-see. If you can find a ticket, don’t miss the chance to experience this powerful rendition.

***Photo Credit to Perry Rust


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