Jasmine Young & Charlie Meredith in Rent
By Jonathan Larson
Directed by Sharon Kinnison
Musical Direction by Gayle King
Review by Annette Skaggs
Entire contents copyright © 2014 by Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved.
I will not use this column to tell you the detailed background of this steamroller of a Broadway musical. Most of us, if not all, know the sad but true story of how this juggernaut of beauty and sadness is now part of our musical lexicon. What I will share with you is the new appreciation that I have for the production after watching it through the eyes of the Acting Against Cancer troupe.
I mentioned in another review how much I love to be introduced to new arts companies in and around the Kentuckiana area and this one had flown under my radar for far too long. According to their website www.actingagainstcancer.com their mission is to use positive and artistic mediums to raise awareness and funds in the fight against pediatric cancer. To their credit since their beginnings in 1999 they have raised over $350,000. The Arts and Philanthropy…. that makes my heart smile.
Now, on to the show.
If you have not been to Tim Faulkner’s new multi-functional Arts Space, do it!!!! Watching a stage performance of Rent in what is definitely a Bohemian surrounding definitely made me feel as if I was watching the first workshop of the phenomenon in 1994. And to that point, the production was fraught with the perils and pitfalls of humble beginnings but what came out of it was a shining light. Often times the actors were wrangling with malfunctioning microphones that would more than not cut out during their songs or recites. Sometimes a cue would be missed by a fraction of a second because of the space differentiations of being able to see the orchestra from the back of the dense and high stage. But, I didn’t let any of that bother me. I sat in the audience of young and not so young, friends, and family, strangers, who were there to be entertained and to support.
In looking over the fantastic pedigree of the performers and musicians that were assembled for Rent I noticed that with a few of them, singing may not have been a strong suit, and yes, that was obvious in quite a few solos. Performers would get off key and sometimes not make it back to base, but they sang on. But I will tell you this, when the ensemble would come together, they came together. The harmonies of “Season of Love” were some of the most lush that I have heard in both professional and not so professional productions ever.
The ensemble is young, but as I mentioned, pretty well heeled in the acting community of Louisville. As you would probably expect, this could have been a real life Rent unfolding before our eyes and ears, as there were actors from Walden Theatre, Indiana University, University of Louisville, Louisville Ballet School, Stage One, Bunbury Theatre, Music Theater of Louisville, Actors Theatre and other places of note. I felt like this group of young adults very well could have been singing about this crucial part of life, trying to strike it out in their own worlds and on their own terms.
On the whole, it was a job well done by this energetic group of theater folks. Their energy on stage was contagious.
But before I go let me tell you about the orchestra. With the incomparable and internationally known Gayle King leading musical direction, well, you can’t get much better than that around these parts.
Thank you AAC for your compassion to helping the children in our community that are struggling with cancer, and doing so in a way that educates and entertains. I look forward to your next performances.
June 6-15, 2014
Acting Against Cancer
At The Tim Faulkner Gallery
1512 Portland Avenue
Louisville, KY 40218