Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
Tuesday 11th April 2017

I had my judgments about Rent before walking into the auditorium tonight for the opening of this 20th Anniversary production this week in The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham. The only productions I have seen previous was an amateur performance at The Edinburgh Fringe in 2015, and I remember feeling very sorry for the performers on stage who were giving it their all but to a sound system which wasn't working to their favour, which really damaged my enjoyment and made me not really understand the storyline of the whole show altogether. Since then I had not listened to any of the soundtrack or watched the 2005 movie adaptation, so I really was walking once again into this touring production with a fairly fresh open mind, and once again I was blown away by what I saw on stage!

It should be noted that Rent may have a very niche audience, and for that I mean I would in ways liken this production to Les Misérables in the fact that there is always an underlying beat to story and tackles some really hard hitting stigmas in  their shows, for instance HIV & Aids being perceived on stage in Rent, to which you have no time to stop and think when this show races by in the 2hrs 40mins running time, but to my surprise looking down from the gods on the audience down below, there was such a mix of young and old coming to watch this rock musical that weather they came out of the show and enjoyed the production or not, this production is definitely one of the most edgy shows that The Everyman Theatre have put on for some time, and to see it being watched by an almost packed auditorium is so refreshing to see, and hopefully signposts more big productions to come Cheltenham's way!

It took some time to get into this production as we follow the lives of those in New York's East Village, and I believe that's because we to and fro between all the characters that we have to be introduced to, more than most musicals do, especially when in Rent they all interact with each other so intimately, but as things start to settle and the intertwining stories start to all fall into one underlying thread of HIV/Aids, you start to feel fully engaged with the story that is so beautifully performed by the actors on stage, especially from Ross Hunter (Roger), Philippa Stefanie (Mimi), Layton Williams (Angel), and Christina Modestou (Maureen), who all blew me away with their energy and commitment to choreography from Lee Proud, especially from our leading ladies in songs such as 'Light My Candle' with Roger and Mimi, 'Tango' with Mark (Billy Cullum) and Maureen, and finally 'Contact', to which involved the whole ensemble giving such an electrifying performed with the stunning lighting design from Rick Fisher.

I loved this production so much from the stunning set which was used in such a multi purpose way, right through to the personalities of the characters which oozed through all the performers on stage, and finally the engaging story from Jonathan Larson, to whom really is the heart of this musical which is the clear reason why people from all over the world come to watch this stunning musical in their masses, and especially in it's 20th year - Happy Birthday Rent!


Popular Posts