RENT is a harsh rock opera loosely based on 'La Boheme'. It has tricky choral numbers which challenge performers vocally and stretches their acting capabilities as they portray characters which are a long way from their own everyday lifestyles.
This is an ambitious show and the eight main characters were well cast. Abi Weingold was a suitably sensual, drug-addicted Mimi and had good chemistry with Ross Bannister playing the part of her lover, Roger, a tortured aspiring rock star. Their duet 'Without You' certainly pulled at the heart strings. Danni Birks gave a very forceful performance as protest artist Maureen, and her duet 'Take me or Leave me' with long suffering girlfriend Joanne (Heather Taylor) was a high-light of the show. Nick Plummer-Walsh playing grief stricken anarchist, Tom gave a very subtle, thought provoking performance and together with boyfriend cross-dresser Angel, who succumbs to AIDS, brilliantly portrayed by Jamie Cooke, made an excellent duo. Mark (Joseph Walker) was very convincing as the narrator-cameraman - taking part in about 23 musical numbers, and last but not least, 'sell-out' landlord, Benny (John Crowther) - keep up the good work John. The ensemble (10 in number) played a variety of characters and gave of their best particularly in 'Seasons of Love' (with great solos from Jill Beckett and Jamie Cooke).
The different levels scaffold set (designed by Hansel D'Rosa) worked well - with all the cast making full use of the various levels. Scene changes were really slick, props were simple but very effective, and costumes were well thought out - I loved Angel's Santa outfit and particularly the red high-heeled boots - he walked and danced in them better than many a young female!!
Steve and the four members of the Band gave just the right level of accompaniment and Aggie's choreography in a number of scenes was excellent.
The show was produced to celebrate 25 years of the Group - founded originally by Woodseats Musical Theatre Company as a Youth Group, which it still is today - for this production past and present members came together.