I may have forgotten most of the non-singing dialogue in RENT, but I definitely remember all the words to all the songs.
Last night Shan and I went to a preview of Fighting Chance Productions’ presentation of RENT at the Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver (delightfully situated two blocks from our house, 3 blocks from the Sea Bus, and across the street from a 7-11 with delicious gummy candy). It was basically a dress rehearsal, and the director warned us beforehand that it was about 98% of complete – a few props weren’t ready yet, and a couple other things were being tried out for the first time – but other than that, all should be awesome.
And it was!
It was a fantastic show. The cast and crew absolutely did justice to Jonathan Larson’s vision, and the singing and staging were great. Shan and I both really enjoyed ourselves, and the rest of the audience appeared to as well – a standing ovation came at the end, and we left the theatre feeling like we had seen an awesome treat.
All of the singers were great, but a few really stood out for me: Joanne (Jenn Suratos), Benny (Kholby Wardell) and Collins (Nick Fontaine) in particular were just amazing both in voice and acting. Maureen (Jacqueline Breakwell) and Mark (Anton Lipovetsky) were great too, bringing the laughs as well as incredible singing voices to their parts.
There were a couple of minor performance issues, but as we were seeing a dress rehearsal it was sort of expected – a few missed cues (which Shan didn’t notice, but she isn’t familiar with the music – only a RENT nerd would have caught them), phones not ringing on time (which was more funny than anything else), a missed line (“playing Spiderman!”) and one slightly (more) chaotic performance of “Contact”, which is one of the more difficult pieces in the show.
They’ll be doing one more preview performance tonight before the official opening night on Wednesday, and the show runs until August 23rd. I really, really recommend that you check it out – not only would you be supporting local theatre and the first all-Canadian performance of RENT ever; you’d be seeing a really great show.
One thing that Shan and I both found odd: the live band wasn’t credited in the program. I don’t know why; they were great and a surprise – I thought it would be recorded music, but they had a complete live band playing above the performance floor. It was a very nice touch, and they definitely deserve some love – maybe they’ll be added to the program later.
The Nederlander Theatre on Broadway first started doing a ticket lottery, and it was so popular that it was apparently written into the contract for each RENT performance – a number of tickets are set aside and sold at a discount before each show. The tradition continues, and a minimum of 10 seats will be sold for $15 each night. Check the RENT in Vancouver blog for more details, and do yourself a favour by seeing the show. I’m very tempted to see it again, both because it is awesome and also to see if they managed to tame Contact.
As an aside, it is amusing to note that my crush on Mark Cohen is still strong and true: he’s always been my favourite character, and I have a crush on anyone who plays him (Anthony Rapp and Neil Patrick Harris especially) – Anton’s Mark was awesome!
What’s not to love about a show in which everyone wears Converse or latex? It’s like my own life, except for the AIDS and drugs and gorgeous lesbians.
Go see RENT!