‘RENT’ reveals the struggles of bohemian life

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Cory Thaxton

The stage is dark besides four pink lights lighting up the back wall and a single spotlight on a table with two chairs and a guitar.

It’s Christmas eve 1989 on a dark and cold night in East Village, New York City.

Roger is sitting on the table playing his guitar in his studio apartment.

Mark walks in the room, with his video camera in hand, and they begin to wonder how they are going to pay last year’s rent, this year’s rent and next year’s rent.

On March 17, 2015 the school of visual and performing arts premiered its annual spring musical.

This year that musical was “Rent”!

“Rent,” loosely based on the characters and story of Puccini’s “La Boheme”, opened to New York audiences 20 years ago and immediately became a musical theatrical piece that has changed the masses.

“Rent” became the 1996 Tony Award winning Best Musical, Best Musical Score and Best Book.

Johnathan Larson the composer, lyricist and boo writer died opening night.

Now the love story he wrote will be seen through the lives of a company of unconventional Americans bonded together through their musical, artistic and literary pursuits.

“Under the veil of poverty, drug use and…HIV/AIDS, this group of unconventional artists driven by their passion, seek and find love, experience loss and ultimately profess the hope in living for today and ultimately the future,” said Robin Stephens, director and choreographer of ULM’s production of rent.

This show covers some pretty difficult issues. The cast had some interesting ways to get into character.

“I don’t talk in between scenes or at intermission. Because I’m not Hannah anymore, I’m Mimi. I have to do this, because I am so unlike my character and she is so complex and difficult to portray, I simply cannot fathom understanding her as an outsider. I have to become her,” Hannah Bryan, senior education major said.

Marie Looney, junior music major said, “I watched a few great performances of “Rent” and I was really inspired by a few I saw. The common factor in every portrayal is that Maureen is completely in love with herself. It was a lot of fun to explore her character.”

After three long months of rehearsing the cast finally got to put on the big show. The cast thought the rehearsals were fun, but also very intense.

“My favorite part of putting it together is getting to know the cast. The people I did this musical with are some of the best people I’ve ever worked with,” Looney said.

“My favorite part is the moment we get to step on stage. The moment brown auditorium is ready and we get to move our rehearsals to the stage is amazing. Everything clicks, everything makes sense. I get to fit my acting, singing and movement to the stage and the props. It’s amazing,” Bryan said.

Director Stephens said that “This musical

has the power to move you emotionally and change forever how you look at the world. It has been an honor and a privilege to be part od discovering and presenting this musical story.”