In the days of turn any movie that did well at the box office into a Broadway Musical you never know what you are getting into when you walk into a theater. Think the tragedy that was Xanadu-The Musical it is nice to sit in a theater and enjoy a night of amazing, emotional, enthralling theater.
Rent opened off Broadway in January of 1996 and was so well received it moved to broadway within three months and ran for some twelve years making it the ninth longest running Broadway show of all time. Rent (which also means torn apart) was the brainchild of playwright Billy Aronson who wanted to create a musical based on Puccinni's LaBoheme but he replaced the lavishness of the original with a cast of gritty characters that hang out in a vacant building in New York's East Village. Tuberculosis is replaced with HIV/AIDS and a drag queen is thrown into the mix.
Casa Manana is the first regional theater to get the rights to put on this powerhouse of a show. A responsibility they took seriously. Rent is an ensemble piece and and ensemble is only as good as its' weakest link, and there are no weak links here. Karmine Alers reprises the role of Mimi, a role she played on Broadway, and she had me rooting for Mimi from the beginning. Broadway veteran Jason Wooten makes his Texas debut as Mimi's Love interest HIV+ musician Roger Davis. His voice is Golden.
The secondary, but even more endearing love story involves Tom Collins a philosophy professor who is partnered with Drag Queen Angel Schunard. Maurice Johnson as Tom and Walter Lee Cunningham, Jr as Angel pulled me into their love story in a way that I have not been drawn into a play in a very long time. Both actors set the bar high for the rest of the cast. A challenge that is met. It was nice to see Cunningham, Jr. play this role, he was in Dallas Theater Center's Cabaret as another drag character that he played hysterically, here, we got to see his humor, but also a more serious demension to his character, very impressive!
The staging Is basic, and that allows the focus on the story where it belongs, I will say the lighting is the uncredited star of this production. The lighting is bold and dramatic and adds amazing depth to the show.
It has been more than fifteen years since Rent first played Broadway, but still today it is a show unparalleled. I have not ridden an emotional roller coaster like this in a theater in a very long time. Every month there are great entertainment choices in theater in the Metroplex, shows that will entertain and shows that you will be glad you saw, but it is not often that a show of this caliber is an option. Casa Manana has taken regional theater to new heights with this production. This is an unequivocal must see!
Rent plays Fort Worth's Casa Manana through Sunday, March 11th. Tickets are $37-$62. and available at http://casamanana.org/
Please login or register to add comments