- CHARITY BENEFIT
”Rent”is back, only this time off-Broadway. Maybe we have passed the tragedy of New York being overtaken by the corporate world while artists struggle to survive AIDS, homelessness and a world that no longer is friendly towards them. The original was an outcry of the pain of being overtaken and the joy that community brings. This new re-imagined version will have its fans, with the original director Michael Greif, bringing Jonathan Larson’s masterpiece back from a short three-year reprieve. Original costumer Angela Wendt also returns with variations on a theme. The new cast, handpicked is not as impressive except for Annaleigh Ashford as Maureen. Ms. Ashford, instead of trying to replace Idina Menzel, has a new approach and she is like a breath of fresh air in a somewhat stale timepiece. As the gay lovers, Tom Collins (Nicholas Christopher) and Angel (MJ Rodriguez) exhibit a chemistry and vocal prowess that gives the show its heart and soul. As long as these two are connected, the show will touch those who experience it. . As Mark, the narrator of the piece, Adam Chanler-Berat eerily brings back the late Jonathan Larson but lacks the angst that drives the show forward. Matt Shingleldecker as Roger is just too healthy and buff to have AIDS and vocally sounds more musical theatre than Adam Pascal’s rock star vocals. Arianda Fernandez looks and acts the role of Mimi but her vocals are almost always under pitch.
The set by Mark Wendland and the lighting by Kevin Adams make the New World Stage come alive and we are in the East Village of the 90’s.
It’s been 1,576,800 minutes without hearing the anthem as “Seasons of Love,” but will thisRent give this generation “La Vie Boheme”? Only time will tell.
New WorldStages, 340 West 50th Street