RENT rehearsed until midnight last night and our production team gathered for notes into the wee hours this morning. Everyone made the big push to make our first dress/tech run-through with piano happen. All of it technically coming together for the first time, one expects considerable problems but I’m happy to report on this gray overcast morning in Aurora, the talent shines through brightly on the Paramount stage. The cast, like the stars they are, lighting up the stage, inhabit these characters! You can’t imagine anyone else playing them. There are many new faces here with varied backgrounds and experience and to see all of them working together unified and committed to land this story is nothing short of remarkable. Their vocals are thrilling and pack an emotional punch. Musical theatre actors don’t often have the opportunity to sing a score like Jonathan Larson’s RENT. The emotions are always at a peak of wanting to be heard and understood and we are challenging ourselves to choose, rather than being withdrawn or internalized, to be articulate, expressive and full voiced, unable to hold back or to be contained. It takes courage to find your voice in a way you never have before. To expose oneself in pain. And in joy!
The technical and design team achieve a level here very different from what is traditionally expected in musical theatre and the risk pays off. Larson’s intention is to redefine the genre for a new era and we have now a mighty mix of delivering on that with stunning originality on a new scale, an operatic scale, for this multi-Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning work. A raw yet rich beauty contrasts with stark minimalism, a surprisingly elegant and eloquent setting for the disenfranchised inhabitants of New York’s Alphabet City in this winter of 1991.
Yesterday afternoon, I caught a glimpse of our 5 man rock band during their first rehearsal day of playing together. The gospel strains of the second act reprise of “I’ll Cover You” filled the theater and soared to the Venetian glass chandelier! You will not believe the artistry of these musicians! Today the cast will sing with their own rock band for the first time. This is always the rehearsal that creates an experience none of us soon forgets. And then tonight, we will put it all together for the first time: sets, lights, costumes, musicians, a full final dress rehearsal. As I write this, I can’t believe it…we open tomorrow, Wednesday, for our first preview audience at the matinee! Press Opening Night is Saturday. After today, we have only eight hours of rehearsal left!
Ladies and gentlemen, I cannot wait to share this production with you!
My love and best and thanks,