W.H.A.T. Tackles RENT in First 24-Hour Musical Challenge, 1/25-26

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. . well, they'll have more like 1,440.

That translates into exactly 24 hours in which a few dozen young actors, actresses, musicians, costumers and technical staff have to rehearse, choreograph, stage and produce a full production of the musical "Rent".

The West Hudson Arts & Theater Company (W.H.A.T.) is planning its first Annual 24-Hour Musical Challenge which will asks participants to enter the W.H.A.T. Theater at 7 p.m. tonight, January 25th. Exactly one day later, on Saturday, January 26th at 7 p.m., they will take the stage and present the rock musical "Rent".

Many theatre fans are familiar with the concept of a 24-hour musical; a group of performers come together exactly one day before their curtain is due to rise, and begin to learn and rehearse a musical.

"This is literally a full show, produced entirely in one day," says W.H.A.T. Artistic Director Joe Ferriero. In the W.H.A.T. challenge those participating were actually told 2 weeks before that their challenge would be the award-winning musical "Rent," he noted. Everything else -- the script, the cast, costumes, set and even the production staff's roles -- are kept a secret. "We will work throughout the night and into the next day in a creative- and I'm sure caffeine-fueled, diligent setting to bring this show to the stage," he added.

The idea for the Challenge was presented to the W.H.A.T. by Kearny resident Faith D'Isa, a musical theater major at High Tech High School. "It began with my wanting to do something different for my 18th birthday," she explained, "and the 24-hour musical challenge was always something that intrigued me." She proposed hosting the challenge as a fundraiser for W.H.A.T. "We have asked everyone involved to make a donation to the theater," she added. Other funds will be raised by the tickets sold to Saturday night's show.

"We loved the idea," said Ferriero, who refers to the 24-hour challenge as the new 'flash mob'. "Its fun, fresh, and we think a perfect way to expose W.H.A.T. to new audiences. Participants are from communities throughout Hudson County including Hoboken, Jersey City, and Weehawken and other towns including Verona and East Hanover.

"We can't wait for this group of talented, creative young people to come together for such a unique theatrical undertaking," said Michele Sarnoski, who will serve as director of the Challenge.

Tickets for the performance of "Rent" on Saturday, January 26th are $7. They can be purchased online at www.whatco.org by calling 201-467-8624, or at the W.H.A.T. Theater, 131 Midland Avenue, Kearny, NJ.

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