Liam’s birthday is coming up so I treated him to a night at the rock opera. Players from local not-for-profit entertainment company, Mixed Voice, were strutting their stuff at the Playhouse Theatre trying their hand at ‘Rent.’ It may be a bit of a gay cliché but Liam loves a musical and ‘Rent’ is a musical he loves. Loosely based on Puccini’s ‘La Bohème,’ the tale focuses on an eclectic troupe of impoverished young artists and musicians in the late Eighties struggling against a bitter wind in Alphabet City, the once avant-garde (but now ruthlessly gentrified) district of Manhattan. While Puccini laced his opera with consumption, Rent is stalked by AIDS, the kiss of death back in the day. As the characters try to make ends meet, some meet their end. Despite the misery, Rent is neither depressing nor sugar-coated. But it is tough to stage and perform. A hugely complex, multi-layered score is punctuated by irregular rhythms, constantly changing tempos and complex harmonies which, if poorly delivered, could be a total dog’s breakfast. I had wondered if the cast would pull it off. Well, they pulled it off with some polish, receiving a well-deserved standing ovation. Even a normally reticent Liam leapt to his feet wanting more. Shame there wasn’t an encore.
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