-by Brenda Hillegas
feature photo by Carol Rosegg
Friday night was my 9th time seeing RENT, which is SOLD OUT for it’s three-day stop in Philadelphia at the Kimmel Cultural Campus Merriam Theatre. This show is why I get to gush about theatre to everyone who reads the blog. It was my “gateway” musical when I first saw it in 2003 and I fell hard for musical theatre because of the beautiful music, the story, and the characters.
I could give you 525,600 reasons why you should get RENT tix while it’s here for a brief stop (you still have a chance!), but I won’t waste your time. Just set your alarms, get your credit card ready and do what you can to get a ticket. Keep reading to find out how you can still score tickets…
For 25 years, Jonathan Larson’s RENT reminds us why love wins. It celebrates the friends who turned into family. It encourages us to support the starving artists who stand up for their community and aren’t giving up on their dreams. RENT inspired so many musicals that followed. You’ll see- if you haven’t already- why this was a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning show. Now is your last chance to become a lifelong RENThead as RENT travels the country for a farewell tour.
RENT follows a year in the life of eight friends in New York City. They’re young, broke, and ready to change the world. Some are dying, yet full of life. This diverse group- Mark, Roger, Mimi, Collins, Angel, Joanne, Maureen and Benny- have been played by countless actors over the last 25 years. Each time I see the show on stage, the characters are brought to life in new ways, specific to the actors playing them. It’s always so clear that the cast is a group of RENT fans just like the rest of us.
It was great to see Northwest Philly’s own Shafiq Hicks in the role of Collins again. This is a deep character and Hicks plays him well. There are so many amazing duets in RENT, and in particular I loved Hicks and Javon King (who plays Angel just perfectly) in “I’ll Cover You.” You could feel the love bounce around the stage…and wait until you hear -and feel- the emotions in the reprise of the song. “Take Me Or Leave Me” is one of my favorite songs from any musical, ever. Lyndie Moe (Maureen) and Rayla Garske (Joanne) just nail it. Of course, good luck staying in your seat and not singing along to RENT’s anthem, “La Vie Boheme.” I’m always impressed at how well choreographed and perfectly chaotic this entire scene is…and I am never disappointed. And Aiyana Smash is the best Mimi I have seen (and I’ve seen this show a lot). She’s phenomenal in “Out Tonight.”
RENT has been non-stop (and worldwide) since 1996. The currently (and again a reminder – final) tour is making its way through 5 countries, 237 cities, and 1,005 performances. Unfortunately, creator Jonathan Larson died unexpectedly just before RENT‘s first off-Broadway performance (the recent Netflix film Tick, Tick, Boom gives us a closer look at his life). When the show transferred to Broadway a few months later, everyone knew it was certain to win the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical!
There will be a limited number of digital community rush tickets released at 10am of each performance date. These are first come, first serve and only 40 tickets per performance will be released each day (again at 10am). Limit two ticket per customer. Set your reminders and try your luck for this weekend’s shows! Details here.