BWW Review: RENT at Little Radical Theatrics
I had the pleasure of seeing Rent a few weeks ago, presented by the Little Radical Theatrics in Yonkers, NY. This particular production commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Broadway production of Rent and truly demonstrated that the subject matter is as relevant today as it was in 1996. Homosexuality, AIDS, bohemian artists with uncertain futures certainly touch a nerve within the mainstream and are no way completely accepted, although there has been a great deal of progress made.
Seeing this production reminded me just how passionate Jonathan Larson was back in the day and how tragic it was for him to die before opening night. The actors in this production inhabited their roles with this underlying passion and dedication to his legacy. Michael J. Mirra crafted this production with fine singing actors and a top notch band - proving that one does not need to see this production in a Broadway house to be completely moved.
I was not sure that bringing my 11 year old son and 9 year old daughter was the right show for their musical theater education, but they were completely on board with the subject matter. My daughter immediately downloaded the score on her iPod and has been singing "Light my candle" and "Another Day" with actual understanding of the words. Whether that is too mature for her, I was conflicted. However, I am certain that she will develop and maintain empathy as she navigates her teen years and all the challenges that that imposes.
To my delight, my children asked sensible questions and were intrigued with the back story of the whole show and its issues. Steven Skwarek and Ariana Morales as Roger Davis and Mimi Marques portrayed the tormented lovers with chemistry and passion. Chris Manetakis as Mark Cohen anchored the show as the cynical, yet ambitious filmmaker. Jennifer Silverman as Maureen and Stephanie Lourenco brought the house down with "Take me for What I Am," with powerful vocal intensity. Juan Carlos Rodriguez as Angel Schaunard had some incredible costumes, which seemed to be a labor of love, since the costume designer was not listed.
However, when Marcus Roberts, as Tom Collins sings the "I'll Cover You" (Reprise) in the second act to his dying love Angel, this was clearly the moment when the whole theatrical experience was transformational. Mr. Roberts, with his powerful vocals and complete commitment, truly captured the pathos and heartbreak of mourning his dead lover. Ironically, "Seasons of Love" has always been the pinnacle song for this show, but I would hedge my bets on this musical moment. That for me, is worth the price of admission.
Congratulations to Little Radical Theatrics, Fatima Viegas, Executive Producer, Michael J. Mirra, Director, Peter Capelle, Conductor and the cast and crew, for giving me a reason to continue to enable my children to experience powerful and fully committed theatrical productions. I truly look forward to what is next!