Review: RENT by Kauri Theatre

April 10-20 Gryphon Theatre

By: Apr. 11, 2024
Review: RENT by Kauri Theatre
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Gritty and rewarding show, most definitely worth seeing.

Rent is a musical by Jonathan Larsen loosely based on the 1896 Opera La Boheme. It tells the story of young artists struggling to survive in New York under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

Jonathan Larsen tragically was never able to see his show debut on Broadway, dying the morning after the final dress rehearsal was run, suffering an aortic dissection. Thankfully, his music lives on and the show and themes are still relevant today.

The show is already sold out with no option to extend the season, which is great news for Kauri Theatre, not so good if you missed out on a ticket.

It is mostly sung and that makes the balance between the band and the cast very important. In some of the rockier numbers, the cast voices were hard to hear, meaning we missed out on some of the witty dialogue.

The band, lead by Anna Mckean were excellent. It is always fantastic to hear live music at a show, though it is understood that that can be very difficult to achieve in this form of theatre.

The set was quite simple, with two levels, the back being the apartment where Mark and Roger live and the front being an open canvas for other scenes.

Costuming was of a high standard fitting the period and location. Lighting was also very good.

The show was very well cast with all leads having stong voices and characterisations. I saw the alternative Mark, played by Sam Shields who with Roger, played by Chris McMillan are the main characters. They put us immediately at ease in the opening number with their assured performances. 

Rach Te Tau who played Mimi was very convincing with a good voice and great movement. 

I also really enjoyed the Angel and Collins couple, played by Richie Rewa and Dennis Eir Lim respectively. Both had moments to shine, with Dennis singing one of the catchiest tunes of the night "Today for you" which was well done and Richie giving heartfelt emotion when singing the "I'll cover you" reprise. It was a special moment and tugged at the heartstrings.

For me, the two standout performances came from Caitlin McDougall as Joanne and Stacey O'Brien as Maureen.  The "Over the Moon" scene which introduces us to Maureen was particularly good, with the audience drawn into this weird and bizarre number.  It is normally one I do not enjoy, but this was excellent. Their duet "Take me or leave me" was also well sung and well choreographed.

The ensemble were kept quite busy and for the most part sang and acted well. There were a couple of harmony issues along the way, but they were minor and did not detract from the show.  Each were given a chance to shine and a few of them (Gracie Voice, Millie Fuller and Emily K Brown) really took that chance and ran with it.  

Overall this was a very good production that is most definitely worth seeing if you are lucky enough to have a ticket. Recommended.


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