The second show of Community Players’ 92nd season will be the award-winning rock musical Rent.
Rent, based on Puccini’s La Bohème and its source novel, Henri Murger’s Scènes de la vie de Bohème, is set in the early 1990’s, Lower East Side world of a number of young, out-of-the-mainstream artists, their lives and their art complicated by a variety of social pressures manifested in the play by AIDS, drug abuse, homelessness, and gentrification. New York City was and is a place where outrageous wealth exists side by side and in tension with outrageous poverty and misery. The wealthy are able to construct a city of privilege for themselves in which they are only rarely forced to acknowledge the other city where the homeless, the drug-addicted, the AIDS-infected, and the Bohemian artists live.
Rent was written by Jonathan Larson, whose tragic story is well known. After many years of writing and trying to get his work produced, Larson died of an aortic aneurysm the night before the first public performance of Rent at the off-Broadway New York Theater Workshop. The show received glowing reviews and transferred to Broadway’s Nederlander Theater in April 1996, where it dominated the awards season, spawned numerous tours and international productions, inspired a film adaptation in 2005 starring most of the original cast, and ran until September 2008.
Director Brett Cottone has assembled a young and energetic cast to bring this musical to resounding life: Aaron Wiessing as would-be filmmaker Mark Cohen; Sean Sevens as blocked songwriter Roger Davis; Samantha Bettis as, um, exotic dancer Mimi Marquez; Matthew Henry as landlord Benjamin Coffin III; Breeann Dawson as performance artist Maureen Johnson; Felicia Jiardina as Bohemian lawyer Joanne Jefferson; Tony Gannaway as Professor of Actual Reality Tom Collins; and Chris Stanford as drummer and dancer Angel Schunard. Playing a variety of other roles are Nick Benson, Kallie Bundy, Latrisha Green, Ben Hauck, Kyle Holliday, Aimee Kerber, Missy Montefalco, Jake Rathma, Tony Smith, Chris Tervan, Austin Travis, Allyson Troyanovich, Becca Williams, Kristin Woodard, and Isaiah Young.
Patrons attending Rent will be greeted by a set with a very urban look. It is constructed from scaffolding and pipes and offers multiple levels for the cast to perform on. There are no curtains, so you may be able to see actors off-stage, getting ready for their entrances. As director Brett Cottone explained, “We wanted to take advantage of the space and show the audience what the Players stage really looks like. We hope it gives the show a raw feel of reality, and enhances the rock concert vibe of the show.”
Producer (and Costumer) Alan Wilson has gathered a staff that includes Music Director Rusty Russell, Choreographer Wendy Baugh, Assistant Director Bridgette Richard, Lighting Designer Tony Meizelis, Sound Designers Rich Plotkin and Eli Mundy, Property Mistresses Dorothy Mundy and Carol Plotkin, Stage Manager Judy Stroh, and House Manager Wendy Fleming.
The Pay-What-You-Can Preview Performance will be Thursday, November 6. Regular performances will be November 7-9, 13-16, and 20-23. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances begin at 7:30. Sunday matinees begin at 2:30.
Rent uses adult language and depicts sexual situations and drug use and thus is intended for mature audiences. It is nevertheless of celebration of art and life and love. No day but today.
by Bob McLaughlin and John Lieder


Photos by John Lieder