"Rent" – Review

I laughed, I cried, and if someone asked me to see it again I probably would.

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Cast of “Rent.” Provided by the Theatre Department

I came from a musical background in high school. I was in musical theatre for four years and, needless to say, those were some of the best years of my life. There’s something liberating about being on stage and singing your heart out to members of an audience.

When I found out that Tech was putting on “Rent” this semester I was instantly interested. I’ve only seen “Rent” the movie, but never live. It was almost my first time to see Tech put on a musical. I’ve seen them do plays (which, I already knew they rocked at) so my expectations for “Rent” were very high and instantly met.

In Act 1 there is so much going on the entire time. The characters were cast perfectly. I think it’s safe to say they were all talented but three of them really stood out to me.

The character of Angel, played by Isiah Columbus, was amazing. From the moment he stepped on stage to his last scene I could not take my eyes off of him. He plays a drag queen who starts dating Collins, played by Chris Kiley, at the beginning of Act 1. Angel has one particular dance scene, “You Okay, Honey,” that blew me away. After his performance I knew he would shine throughout the entire production.

Another character I was impressed with was Mimi, played by Nikole Martine. I thought her role was straight up sexy. Her voice was not only top-notch, but her acting was fabulous. The way she worked the stage and played her character was beautiful.

Last, but not least, another notable role was Maureen, played by Madison Weinhoffer. The scene, “Over the Moon,” was the first time she makes an appearance, and it’s the second to last scene in Act 1. Her performance makes up for her absence. The first thing you’ll instantly notice are her long luscious locks and then you’ll realize what a bad-a** actress she is.

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Madison Weinhoffer during her ‘Over The Moon’ scene.

Like I said, the entire cast was amazing, but those are the roles that stood out to me the most. I was really impressed with the vocal chords on this group. The songs were amazing overall. My favorite musical numbers for Act 1 were “Rent” and “La Vie Boheme.”

In Act 2 my favorite musical numbers were “Contact,” basically an entire sex scene on stage with multiple individuals, and the ending number, which was sentimental and a great way to pull in the story all together. If that doesn’t excite you then I don’t know what will.

This musical is raunchy, it’s crude, it’s loud, it’s sad, it’s sentimental, it’s kind of really freaking great. There are moments of flipping cast members off, a mooning scene, cursing, sex, death, life. You name it, this musical basically has it.

“Rent” is based on the HIV and AIDS outbreak in the 1980s and early 90s. These struggling bohemians quickly find out that there is no certainty in life, and sometimes there really is “no day but today.”

There was a certain scene that made me cry. I won’t give away the details but there is a death, and there were other moments that really pulled on my heartstrings.

Overall, the cast was great; the lighting and how the stage was set up fit the scene perfectly. I would recommend this production to anyone.

“Rent” will be performed on the Maedgen Mainstage from Oct. 10 through 13 and 17 through 20. Curtain times for the 2013-2014 Mainstage theatre season are 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Tickets for Rent are $18 for individuals and $5 for students with a valid student ID. A limited number of free student rush tickets are available for Texas Tech students. For more information call the Maedgen Theatre box office at (806) 742-3603.

Cast

Mark – Jamie Rogers

Roger – Randy Woolley

Collins- Chris Kiley

Angel – Isiah Columbus

Joanne – Jordan Sheets

Mimi – Nikole Martine

Maureen – Madison Weinhoffer

Benny – KJ Rhodes

Male Ensemble – Nathaniel Hall, Clay Martin, Connor Meyers, Alex Vletas

Female Ensemble – Kate Dressler, Mackenzie Kennedy, Calli Lynch

Understudy/Ensemble – Sarah Driskill

Production Staff

Director – Linda Donahue

Music Director – Debbie Gelber

Scenic Designer – Matt Plummer

Lighting Designer – Emmett Buhmann

Choreographer – Courtney Brown

Costume Designer – Leigh Anne Crandall

Projection Designer – Matthew Schlieff

Sound Designer and Live Mixer – Becca Venable

Stage Manager – Paula Fritz

Asst. Music Director – Ann Akin

Asst. Director – DeRon S. Williams

Dramaturgs – Maigan McPherson & DeRon S. Williams

Asst. Stage Managers – Scott Ferrell Jr & DeRon S. WIlliams

Asst. Lighting Designer – Jennifer McKown

Master Electrician – John Conner

Sound Running Crew – Natalie Mayo & Keegan Breeden

Lights Running Crew- John Barrientes, Maria Becerra, Nick Hernandez, Scoot Luke, Kaycee Paterson, Jordan Shaw & Jesus Solis III

Set/Props Running Crew- Alisha Gregory, Colton Hellums & Hartlee Turrell

Costume Running Crew – Jessica Garcia, Victoria Lawson, Briana Moloney, Kyvon Raymond, Sidne Smith & Marissa Urive

Program Design – Troy Battle

Poster Design – KVN Studio

House Supervisor – Ashley Meyer

Assistant House Supervisor – Karen Wurl

House Managers – Maria Albutra & Lauren Mangum

Ushers – Joshua Barrett, Zachary Eaton, Leticia Hernandez, Dean Mitchell, Jesus Ramirez & Benjamin Terry

About Lauren Estlinbaum

Entertainment Director    —    Journalism major, Class of 2014
Lauren Estlinbaum grew up in Pearland, Texas, south of Houston (go Texans). She is a journalism major with a minor in apparel design. Lauren would like to work for either a fashion or lifestyle publication post-graduation. As she likes to say, she considers fashion magazines survival guides.

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