Theatre Arlington is currently playing a production of "Rent" that is both sharp and smart. Theatre Arlington’s "Rent" works so well because of the organic cohesiveness of the cast that director Andy Baldwin has assembled and puts through their paces. This tight cast really feels like a group of friends who have known and lived with each other for a long time.
In composer/lyricist Jonathan Larson’s own words, "’Rent’ is about a community celebrating life in the face of death and AIDS, at the turn of the century." Set in the late 1980s/early 1990s, "Rent" deals frankly with homosexuality, drug abuse and the AIDS epidemic.
All the ingredients for a smash Broadway hit are found in "Rent": The retelling of a classic tale (Puccini’s opera "La Boheme"), with riveting and inspiring lyrics and music and a back-stage story that rivals the on-stage plot (Google Jonathan Larson).
"Rent" won a shelf full of awards (including the Pulitzer Prize and the Best Musical Tony) and provided star making performances by most of the original ensemble, particularly Adam Pascal, Jesse Martin ("Law and Order"), the incredibly gorgeous Taye Diggs ("Private Practice") and the wicked Idina Menzel. "Rent" ended its 12-year run in 2008 and currently ranks #9 on the list of longest running Broadway shows.
Theatre Arlington’s "Rent" boasts impressive work by Major Attaway (Collins), with Tim McCarthy (Mark) and Melissa McMillan (JoAnne.) But the juicy parts go to the Queens: Angel, the self-sacrificing Drag Queen, and Maureen, the self-absorbed Drama Queen.
Angel Velasco has been appearing on stage throughout the DFW for years. But with his turn as the Drag Queen Angel he explodes with a powerful voice, a sentimental charm and some mean percussion and dance skills (while wearing platform shoes and Angel’s signature Santa Christmas dress.) It’s a treat to see all his energy burst forth in a single performance.
The first Act of "Rent" revolves around the character of Maureen, the literal Drama Queen -- although she doesn’t appear until about three-quarters of the way through Act One. Courtney Nicole Sikora throws all inhibitions to the side with a tour-de-force performance of Maureen. This includes the tricky "Over the Moon" performance piece that can deflate a "Rent" production if not performed well or exhilarate the audience with glee if performed correctly. Sikora is a knockout and has the audience "mooing" immediately with great fun.
One of the signature songs of "Rent" is "No Day But Today" but you only have through September 30 to catch this fun, rocking production.
"Rent" runs through September 30 at Arlington Theatre, 305 W. Main Street in Arlington, TX. For info or tickets, call 817-275-7661 or visit http://www.theatrearlington.org/