Rent, the name of the show alone causes a wave of emotion for many. It was a phenomenon on Broadway, the explosive energy and the realness of each character in the production are two of the shows biggest selling points. Rent is the first musical for the MTV generation, but more than that, it is a musical that almost anyone can relate to. It’s relatable to all artists. It’s for all those people that put themselves and their lives on the line. It’s about all those people we sing about in “La Vie Boheme”. It’s about artists therefore; it’s about me,” says Amanda Earls who plays Maureen. When Town Hall announced auditions for the show people from all over turned up for the chance to be a part of something so special but only a handful were selected.
Directed and choreographed by the widely respected Nick Sugar, Town Hall Arts Center’s Rent, is full of passion, heart and dedication. All you have to do is embrace Jonathan Larson’s words and lyrics. The heart and soul of the artist is written in every word and you just have to be true to it. I imposed on them every rehearsal to just be true to what this artist is saying,” says Sugar. Sugar’s words show in each and every cast member.
Mark Lively plays Mark Cohen, originally played by Anthony Rapp on Broadway, the character serves as a kind of ambassador between the audience and the world of the musical. Mark is perhaps the most iconic figure in Rent and Lively does a fantastic job of respecting the foundation laid by those before but also uniquely personalizing him.
Amanda Earls plays the confident, leather-clad, outspoken, flirtatious Maureen Johnson. She rouses the crowd with “Over the Moon”, the performance art/protest number her character Maureen delivers. Ashlie-Amber Harris, who plays Maureen’s lover Joanne Jefferson, brings power and a new spice to role, this Joanne isn’t the same one you saw years ago on Broadway, she’s the 2010 edition. With Earls and Harris playing opposite each other, the two are a force to be reckoned with making “Take Me or Leave Me” one of the strongest duets in the production. “Working with Nick has been incredible and being able to play opposite of Amanda Earls is amazing. Rent is a show that everyone wants to do and we are so blessed to be a part of it,” says Harris.
The surprise for me was the confident intensity between Ryan Belinak and Danny Harrigan who play opposite each other as Tom Collins and Angel Dumott Schunard. The pair are two of the most moving elements in the production. Belinak’s rendition of “I’ll Cover You (Reprise)” is heartfelt and vocally astounding. The connection between the two on stage is honest and inspires people to not only be true to themselves but also to fall in love and take risks in the process. “You go into the role (Angel) thinking drag queen but instead of being this character you have to realize this is a real person, dying of aids, who is in love,” says Harrigan.
Rounding out the main cast are Matt LaFontaine who plays Benjamin Coffin III, Russell Mernagh who plays Roger Davis and Anna Gibson who plays Mimi Marquez. The three give tremendous performances in their various solos, although the cast as a whole is phenomenal.
While Town Hall may not have the most abundant about space, Tina Anderson creates multiple levels, the industrial feel of the Alphabet City and still manages to give the actors plenty of space to maneuver. The set alone is spot on and immediately pulls you in.
Town Hall is offering over 200 discounted seats for the performance. Ten seats will be offered for each show for only $10. Take a trip to Alphabet City now through October 17, 2010.
“The music ignites the night with passionate fire. The narration crackles and pops with incendiary wit.”
Town Hall Arts Center
2450 West Main Street
Littleton, Colorado 80120