NME After Print: RENT 20th Anniversary Tour
I discovered RENT in 2004, ten years after its off-Broadway premiere after hearing "Season of Love" for the first time. That song started my obsession with this powerful musical. RENT is still entertaining audiences after 20 years.
For me, this show has been close to my heart since I saw it live at Popejoy Hall. Now back celebrating its anniversary it still brings me joy. The cast had a nervous start in terms of harmonizing. Mark, played by Logan Marks, came out of his shell after the first couple of songs. He provided the sensitive, outgoing foundation for the show. Roger, played by Joshua Bess, held back. While powerful physically he was reserved vocally. I loved Deri'andra Tucker as Mimi! She gave the fire to the character while giving me that "she looks like me" moment. Even with voice difficulties during "Another Day," she kept her composure, still feeling the emotion needed for the number.
One of the most beloved couples created on a Broadway stage, Tom and Angel is a love story for the ages whether gay or straight. Devinré Adams and Javon King were magical. Adams gave an outstanding performance as Angel. "Today for You, Tomorrow for Me" was electrifying and King's performance of my favorite song, "Santa Fe" was breathtaking. The duet, "I'll Cover You" was heavenly, capturing the love between the couple and drawing you in closer to their story.
Lencia Kebede was the perfect combination of traditional and modern when it came to her performance as Joanne. Kebede thought about how she wanted Joanne portrayed for both the dedicated fans and those seeing it for the first time. Her partner in crime, Maureen, played by Lyndie Moe in Act I and Tori Palin in Act II, gave audiences two different versions of the feisty, vivacious, siren. Moe gave an over-the-top performance of "Over The Moon," an interpretation refreshing to experience. Palin's performance was a traditional take on the character but beautifully performed. Marcus John who took on the role of Benjamin Coffin III seemed timid at times but overall rounded out the cast, creating a solid ensemble.
RENT continues to be a beautiful piece of writing that Jonathan Larson presented to the world two decades ago. It has opened minds and hearts within that time and remains to draw new audiences who seek to experience the magic. RENT at Popejoy Hall will be running from February 15th-17th. Tickets are available at http://popejoypresents.com/2018-2019-season/rent