“RENT” PULSES TO LIFE AT UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT

BONNIE GOLDBERG

Every month it comes due like clockwork.  Twelve times a year without fail.  If you don’t pay it, you’re likely to find yourself evicted and living in the street.  What is this uncompromising bill?  Rent!

Now you have the unique opportunity, for a short time, to experience what it is to be virtually homeless on Christmas Eve with the Connecticut Repertory Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut as they inaugurate their exciting summer series with Jonathan Larson’s unforgettable musical “RENT” until Sunday, June 6.

Set in Greenwich Village, New York City at the end of the 1980’s, Larson took much of its momentum from his personal life struggling to be an artist and having shelter, food and warmth at the same time.  His experience in a loft, on the verge of poverty, with only an oil barrel as a source of heat, surrounded by fellow souls with a bohemian beat, frames the autobiographical tale.  With creativity and daring, he blended his personal story with the Italian opera “La Boheme” by Puccini and penned a Pulitzer and Tony Award winning work.

Tragically Larson didn’t live long enough to bask in the success that “RENT” engendered, dying at the age of thirty-five, just as it was making its Broadway debut.  Unflinchingly he dealt honestly and poignantly with topics that the world still can’t acknowledge easily:  AIDS, homosexuality, homelessness and disenfranchisement.

Let Mark (Joshua Wright), a budding filmmaker, his roommate Roger (Kyle Szen), a songwriter, their friend Tom (Timothy Ware), a computer genius/philosopher, their landlord Ben (Corey Bradley), Tom’s lover Angel (John Shuler Quertermous), Roger’s girl Mimi (Kaitlin Monte) a dancer and activist partners Joanne (Lauretta Pope) and Maureen (Rachel Leigh Rosado) introduce you to their world where love fills their hearts much more than money fills their pockets.

This incredibly energetic and talented cast is ably directed by Art Manke, with colorful costuming by Lucy Brown and a versatile set designed by Michael Anania.

For tickets ($15-37), call the CT Rep at the Jorgensen Theatre on the University of Connecticut campus, Storrs, at 860-486-4226 or online at www.crt.uconn.edu.  Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with matinees at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The summer season continues with six one act comedies by David Ives  “All in the Timing” at the Nafe Katter Theatre June 10-20, the music of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller “Smokey Joe’s Café” at the Jorgenson Theatre June 24-July 4 and the world premiere of the Split Knuckle Theatre Production of the dramatic South Pole adventure “Endurance” by Nick Ryan at the Nafe Katter Theatre June 24-27.

Take a journey a few decades back in time with an outrageously wonderful troupe of young people as they bring Jonathan Larson’s stirring message of humanity to heartbreaking and life affirming triumph.

 

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