‘Rent,’ worth the price at Dillon Theatre
summit daily news
Our little mountain town has turned into a bustling New York City, at least on select weekends.
The Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s presentation of “Rent, the Musical” ushers in a slammin’, stompin’, chair-shakin’ rhythmic good time, full of passion, energy and poignancy.
But beware: If you weren’t comfortable with Lake Dillon’s last production depicting a gay relationship in “The Little Dog Laughed,” you’re probably going to cringe at lesbians kissing each other, a draq queen strutting her stuff and a heroin-addicted stripper grinding out a red-hot dance.
On the other hand, if you enjoy quality entertainment infused with rousing music and choreography, and a story spiked with healthy doses of human suffering and compassion, you must pay the price of “Rent.”
And by price, I mean sitting in an intimate theater while 15 electric actors storm the small space surrounded by seats that literally vibrate when characters run, jump and pound through. I also mean allowing the actors’ harmonious rendition of “Seasons of Love” to stir your soul. And I mean opening your heart to Angel, played by Reymundo Santiago, because, albeit dressed in a black-polka-dotted Santa suit or a mini skirt and blonde wig, this cross dresser teaches people about unbridled love.
“Rent, the Musical” spent 14 years on Broadway and won a Pulitzer Prize for good reason: It blends seduction, addiction and the pain of living with AIDs with love, dreams and authenticity. Playwright Jonathan Larson loosely based his rock musical on Puccini’s opera, “La Boheme.” It follows seven friends committed to experiencing the rapidly-fading Bohemian lifestyle in New York’s East Village. Mark (Josh Blanchard) acts as a witness to his friend’s, Roger, conflicted relationship with heroin-addicted Mimi by capturing real-life as moving pictures. He also frames Tom’s relationship with Angel, who has AIDs, and Joanne and Maureen’s stormy attraction.
As Mark follows his friends through 525,600 minutes – or a full year – he documents issues of fear of losing one’s dignity while dying, struggles with drug addiction, control issues in relationships and ultimately, the lesson of holding onto the kind of love that lasts.
The musical introduces the diverse group of actors Lake Dillon Theatre Company drew from its auditions in New York City. It also stars Blanchard – a staple at the theater – who finds fresh inspiration in interacting with fresh blood.
“It’s really exciting because this company brings a whole new energy, all new experiences and a whole new training,” he said.
The show kicks off Dillon’s summer repertory season, which includes “Hair,” “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” and “Rapunzel.”
“Rent” comes on the heels of “The Little Dog Laughed,” which also pushed boundaries, but as artistic director Chris Alleman said:
“You can’t play down to an audience. You have to challenge them, and luckily for us, we can challenge them.”
Indeed, lucky for us audience members, too.
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