Feature photo: (L to R) Lencia Kebede, Lyndie Moe, Devinré Adams, Javon King. RENT 20th Anniversary Tour, Credit Carol Rosegg, 2018.
If you see one musical in your lifetime, see RENT. This groundbreaking, Pulitzer Prize-winning show is continuing its 20th Anniversary Tour and making a stop at the Merriam Theatre from March 5th to 10th.
RENT, loosely based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème, follows eight individuals living in NYC; a whole year in their lives. We see how they are connected, how they disconnected, and what it truly means to love someone. We see their struggles and their triumphs, their doubts, their certainties.
The show’s creator, Johnathan Larson, died unexpectedly the morning of the show’s first preview performance in 1996. He never got to witness the impact RENT has made on the theatre community. With a message still relevant today and a faithful following of “Rentheads”, this show is destined to shine for years to come.
This production of RENT features two graduates from Philadelphia’s University of the Arts (DevinRe Adams as Tom Collins and Marcus John as Benny), South Jersey native Xavier McKinnon (u/s for Benny ans Swing), and Javon King (Angel) from Union, NJ. Behind the scenes, production stage manager Alexander Pierce and assistant audio manager Mary Radziszewski reside in Philadelphia. Lyndie Moe, who takes on the role of Maureen, is from nearby Wilmington, DE native and attended Cab Calloway School of the Arts there. She also participated in Kimmel Center’s Broadway Dreams program.
Many thanks to Lyndie for chatting with us:
Q: How does it feel to be a part of such a powerful and still very relevant show?
A: It genuinely feels unbelievable. Having the opportunity to not only be a part of this show, but to be involved in the process of putting it together with members of the original creative team from the 1996 production, and having such a hardworking cast and crew make it so beautiful. RENT’s message is timeless and for people of all types and ages, and having the ability to impact somebody’s life through its story is what’s so powerful. Meeting people after the show who have been transformed by its message are some of my most memorable moments.
Q: Were you a “RENThead” before joining the cast?
A: I wasn’t! In fact, I was sort of a late bloomer when it came to being a RENThead. I wasn’t born when it first came out on Broadway, so I didn’t really get to experience the hype it created off the bat. I’ve always loved a couple songs from it, but never dove deep into the substance that makes RENT so different. However, as soon as I did, I was absolutely smitten and was appalled at myself for holding out so long.
Q: You’re from Wilmington, DE. What are some regional shows you participated in while growing up or at Cab Calloway?
A: Some of my most cherished memories have come from that school. Our senior year show was Legally Blonde, and I got to portray Elle Woods along with my absolute best friends from the past seven years. There’s something beautiful about a group of kids doing what they love and experiencing it all together. I also did a lot of shows with Delaware All-State theatre, and the Wilmington Drama League.
Q: How did you prepare for the role of Maureen? How are you like Maureen?
A: I got really lucky with Maureen’s character because I find myself very similar. My favorite part about her has got to be the weird goofball side of her personality. Having the chance to be my true gremlin self on stage every night in “Over the Moon” is something I thought I could only dream of. She is also such a genuine soul and is an advocate for people who maybe don’t have a platform to speak up on. Something I took away from Maureen is the amount of confidence she possesses. I feel like I have gained so much of that through her and I am so thankful.
Q: Favorite RENT song?
It would probably be “Seasons of Love”. It’s just an iconic song and its core purpose is to remind each other how love is always the answer. The audience is always lit up and smiling through this and it’s a connection where the actors get to break the fourth wall and share a direct moment with these people. It’s always pretty heartwarming.
Q: Tell me about your time with the Broadway Dreams program at the Kimmel Center. What advice would you give to anyone interested in being a part of the program?
A: That summer was one I will never forget. The opportunities that happened in that one week were crazy. I was meeting Broadway stars and huge professionals in the business and was able to take classes with them and just learn! We put on a showcase at the end of the week where we preformed numbers that we learned prior, and putting it all together was indescribable. We also had a mock college audition process at the end which was incredibly helpful for me because I was auditioning for colleges that year. If anyone is interested, I would very much so recommend trying it out because it is an experience like no other.
Here are some wonderful things you should know about RENT in Philadelphia:
1. A portion of ticket proceeds are being donated to AIDS Fund Philly, which provides financial and housing assistance to those living with HIV. The RENT national tour will donate up to $1,500, and TD Bank, the Kimmel Center’s season sponsor, will donate up to $5,000 to pay one month’s rent to a survivor in need.
2. Following RENT, the next Broadway production to stop at the Kimmel Center is Miss Saigon. While the two shows don’t have much in common, audiences can enjoy back-to-back ‘Puccini-based’ productions only two weeks apart.
3. RENT was the first Broadway musical to offer seats in the first rows of the orchestra section at an incredibly discounted price by implementing a ticket lottery before each performance. This movement allowed for many young theatre fans to experience shows they may not be able to afford otherwise. In Philly, there will be a limited number of seats in the first two rows of the orchestra for $25 (cash only) for each performance. To try your luck, in-person purchases can be made at the Merriam Theater box office on the day of each performance only, two hours prior to the show. Two tickets per person, while supplies last.
4. BREAKING NEWS– If you’ve read this far, you realize how amazing this musical is. So amazing that the entire run is SOLD-OUT! You can still purchase lottery tickets on a first come/first serve basis. But if you miss out, the show will be returning to the Merriam Theatre October 18 – 20. Tickets are available now by calling (215) 893-1999, visiting, or at the Kimmel Center box office.