RENT CELEBRATES ITS 25TH ANNIVERSARY - JONATHAN’S SPIRIT LIVES WITH A SPIRITED CAST OF LA BOMEME
HOW DO YOU MEASURE A YEAR IN THE LIFE? THIS ICONIC JONATHAN LARSON MUSICAL
CELEBRATES ITS 25TH YEAR ON STAGE
WHILE SPENDING THE HOLIDAY IN THE BAY AREA
RENT the 25th anniversary farewell tour is currently visiting this Holiday for a limited run engagement only through December 12th at The Orpheum Theatre. The musical about the lives of artists struggling to follow their dreams made their debut in New York in 1996 with an inspiring message about life, equality, acceptance, and love that is still relevant today. This tour does a brilliant job in communicating these valuable lessons to a new generation of audiences around the US. With music, lyrics and book by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award®-winning Jonathan Larson.
THE SONDHEIM - JON LARSON CONNECTION
After the loss of the theatre communities treasured Stephen Sondheim, his connection to RENTS playwright is important. Sondheim was also a mentor, a teacher and an audience regular for new works. He was famous for writing typewritten notes to future playwrights and artists. Producer Lin-Manuel Miranda directed the new film version of Larson's first musical “Tick, Tick … Boom!." He asked Sondheim’s to recreate a voicemail where he offers needed praise to the future talent. Larson ignores the ringing phone and lets the answering machine pick up. Sitting on the bare wooden floor of his apartment in 1990 New York City, he listens as Stephen Sondheim says; “Jon? Steve Sondheim here,” the voice says Sondheim scripted that voice mail for the film himself offering just the right words to lift the spirits of Larson and countless other young artists. When Sondheim died on Nov. 26 at 91, the American stage lost not only a composer and lyricist but also its longtime muse and inspiration.
Back in 2017 - the 20th Anniversary tour rolled threw the Bay Area - and the cast was off and very disappointing. But his fresh faced talented cast is led by the powerhouse Cody Jenkins as Mark and Colman Cummings as Roger. This production brings passion and heart on stage and this cast brings Larson’s score the energy it needs. The chemistry in this production is especially keen during the electric opening number RENT and the Act 1 finale - La Vie Boheme. Colemans’ take on Roger was intense but missing some of the depth. He had a soaring voice but it was his acting that really made his performance solid. His solo songs “One Song Glory” and “Your Eyes” delivered some intense soul exposing emotions that made the audience connect to his character.
The bright Jenkins pleased the opening night crowd as the narrator Mark maneuvered from scene to scene with his interpretation that was full of talent and compassion. “Tango Maureen” (his duet with Joanne) was hilarious while his solo “Halloween” was sincere. Together Jenkins and Cummings formed a rousing duo to highlight this farewell tour. Their acting, singing, and overall performance was vibrant. Their duet “What You Own” was emotionally connected with a real friendship and not just actors portraying a role.
The phenomenal Alyana Smash was the alluring Mimi and she showed class, sophistication, and vulnerability and the audience cheered her every entrance. The handsome Jarred Bedgood is the landlord bully Benny and he is skilled in the role. The polished Lyndie Moe is commanding as the over-the-top artist Maureen and her chemistry with the fabulous Rayla Garske was charming as her girl friend Joanne.
The standouts of the evening are the terrific sparkling Javon King as Angel and the vocals of Shafiq Hicks as Collins. King steals the show as Angel, a true triple threat who can act, dance, and sing with the ability to grab your full attention with a compelling performance. “Today 4 U” was a highlight and a show stopper. Together King and Hicks showed authenticity and respect for one another and their love was reflected in their duet “I’ll Cover You”.
As an ensemble, the company was effective in creating and shaping the scenes to transform the Orpheum stage into New York City. In times of major gentrification especially here in the Bay Area, you can’t help but relate to each of the many characters the ensemble has created for the show. The Act 2 opener “Seasons of Love” was a highlight and showcased the entire company. The best actor in this tour is the audience “Rent Fans” love this show, cheer, stand and sing along with the cast. Some I am sure have seen this musical many times and support all the regional productions that are staged each theatre season through the Bay Area.
The 25th Anniversary Touring Production of RENT is directed by Evan Ensign based on the original direction of Michael Greif. The choreography drives at a 100% created by Marlies Yearby - it was organic, passionate, and powerful. Set Design by Paul Clay and Matthew Maraffi and Lighting Design by Jonathan Spencer utilized every space on stage to create an impressive environment and set the mood of the show. Music Supervision by Tim Weil together with the Sound Design by Keith Caggiano proved that even after 25 years - it still at times hard to follow this story with the sheer volume of this show.
This production of RENT has the energy, heart, passion, and love that has followed this musical since Jonathan created the show. Stephen Sondheim's spirit lives in this show and as Larson's muse he followed this show as he does with many of the writers he has mentored. The company was as hyped as the opening night audience in the Orpheum Theatre sent their love to these actors. They performed an art piece that is meaningful and still relevant in our current time. If we keep getting artists to perform RENT then I am sure that Jonathan Larson’s legacy and the message of love this show brings will continue to live on 25 more years and beyond.
#BroadwaySF is offering a great price for $25 IN-PERSON RUSH. They go on sale 2 hours prior to performance. In keeping with RENT’s long standing tradition of making Orchestra seats available for a reduced price, the first 32 rush seats will be $25 in Rows A-E. Remaining rush seats will be $45 based on availability.
Cash only. Limit of 2 per person.
$45 MOBILE RUSH at Tickets Today web site
Download the TodayTix app in the iOS App Store or Google Play Store to unlock the Rush ticketing feature for RENT by sharing on Facebook or Twitter through the app.
Check back in the app at 9:00am for access to exclusive day-of $45 Rush tickets for every performance. Limited number of Rush tickets per performance.
25th ANNIVERSARY FAREWELL TOUR
Directed by Evan Ensign, choreography by Marlies Yearby,
Music Director Matthew DeMaria and Tim Well
Must close, December 12th
SHN Orpheum Theatre
Hyde and Market Street, San Francisco
Tickets: 888-746-1799, www.shnsf.com
Running Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Tickets at https://www.broadwaysf.com/Online/default.asp
PHOTO CREDIT: JEREMY DANIEL
Sondheim insert courtesy Laura Collins-Hughes NYT
CLIP FROM TOUR