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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 29, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 26
Rent is due
The hit rock musical comes to Seattle next month
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Rent is due
The hit rock musical comes to Seattle next month

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

RENT
5TH AVENUE THEATRE
July 21 - August 19


On June 20, the 5th Avenue Theatre held a Spotlight Night on its upcoming musical, Rent. Spotlight Night is always an interesting affair: David Armstrong, the 5th's executive producer and artistic director, creates an evening around a theme with aspects of musical history providing a context for the next production.

In this case, he decided to showcase 'rock musicals' and their history on Broadway. Rock musicals have been a controversial development, sometimes becoming huge hits and sometimes bombing so horribly that they disappear from Broadway for years, being thought too risky to mount.

Armstrong reviewed that history by focusing on some seminal rock musicals - going back particularly to Hair, a show whose creation and box-office power mirrors Rent in many ways. He introduced several members of the young, exciting cast of Rent, who did excerpts from a number of past rock musicals.

Early in the evening the cast did a medley from Hair, including parts of 'Aquarius,' 'Easy to be Hard,' 'The Flesh Failures,' and 'Let the Sunshine In.' Antonia Darlene and Naomi Morgan (Mimi in Rent) soloed with backup from Aaron Finley, Andi Alhadeff, Daniel Berryman, Diana Huey, Heath Saunders, Ryah Nixon, and Sarah Rose Davis.

Finley, who will play Roger in Rent, sang 'Save the People' from Godspell, and Berryman, who will be Mark in Rent, sang a duet from Little Shop of Horrors, 'Suddenly Seymour,' with Nixon, who will play Maureen in Rent.

Other musicals included were Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy, Grease, The Wiz, Aida, Spring Awakening, and, of course, the Seattle world-premiered Hairspray. Armstrong said he thinks the rock musical is finally here to stay, with newer, successful offerings like American Idiot and Seattle's home-grown rock musical Next to Normal.

The rest of the Rent cast - Eric Ankrim, Logan Benedict, Kirsten deLohr Helland, Bryan Gula, Lindsey Hedberg, Jimmie D. Herrod, Jr., Andrew Leonard, Trina Mills, Henry Nettleton, Brandon O'Neill, Casey Raiha, Sarah Russell, and Patrick Shelton - took the stage to help sing the seminal 'Seasons of Love' from Rent, the powerful ballad of hope and love that has become the anthem of the musical.

Director Bill Berry spoke about his early connection to Rent, seeing it years ago on Broadway and wanting to direct 'a musical like Rent' in the future. He's very excited to mount this production, though he cautioned that he was not going to try to 'recreate the Broadway show' and, like other 5th Avenue productions, he has gone 'back to the script' to 'honor what [playwright Jonathan] Larson wrote.' And by skewing the cast younger, he intends to revive the vitality of a bunch of 20-somethings who would rather do art than worry about the rent.

For more information, go to www.5thavenue.org or call (206) 625-1900.

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