Some of the most impactful plays we see are the ones that reflect modern issues in the world, even if the show was written years ago. RENT is one of those shows that continues to resonate with its audiences today and helps give many people hope.
RENT tells the story of a group of friends, all starving artists living in the East Village in New York City. We are first introduced to the group on Christmas Eve, when the cost of living is becoming unattainable and each person is struggling with their own demons. As the year progresses, they deal with the effects of the HIV/AIDs crisis and homelessness while finding comfort in each other.
When I say this musical blew me away, I mean that in every way. While I like to highlight specific actors or performances, it would be a crime for me not to highlight the entire cast. The company poured their heart and soul into this show, and it was exceptional. From Teal Wicks’ gut-busting performance of “Over the Moon,” to Samantha Pauly’s sensational musical talent, and Esteban Suero’s striking and heartbreaking depiction of Angle, I cannot write the praises of this cast enough.
These amazing performances are emphasized the most when there is a musical number that everyone is involved in. “La Vie Boheme/I Should Tell You” was funny and delightful. The choreographed parts are fun and add to the lighthearted mood set in this scene. The song itself sounds amazing as the cast harmonizes flawlessly. It is a great number to go into intermission with, as it leaves you in a great mood. We open the second act with “Seasons of Love,” one of the most iconic songs of the musical. While it is a simple number, it is a reminder to embrace life and love. “Contact,” which then goes into the reprise of “I’ll Cover You,” was one of the most impactful performances of the play. I don’t remember the last time a musical made me cry that much. I highly recommend bringing your tissues for this touching number.
In creating RENT, Jonathon Larson celebrated the artists he knew and the lives of those who died young due to AIDS. He wanted those who were isolated, discriminated against, and suffering due to their diagnosis to see themselves reflected in this play. While it deals with some very heavy issues, RENT celebrates joy, passion, love, and community. By the end of the show, we are reminded to measure love and that there is no day like today.
RENT is playing now through August 27 at the UC Davis Health Pavilion. Learn more here.