“Rent,” Jonathon Larson’s Hit Musical opens at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

“Rent,” by Jonathan Larson opens at CTC on June 17th and runs through July 16th, 2011.   The show will be performed in the round in this Circle Theatre production.    Show Director and Designer, Scott Dunlap works to create the world of the Lower East Side of Manhattan of complete with scaffold platforms, graffiti covered walls and period attire, hello 1996 rock opera!     Dunlap says that the cast of over 20 is onstage throughout most of the show which is 95% sung.    The song “Musetta” from Puccini is a running theme in “Rent,” described by Dunlap as recognizable as an accompaniment for pasta commercials on TV.

CTC says of this production:

 The ever popular rock opera, with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème. It tells a story of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. The musical was first seen in a limited three-week workshop production at New York Theatre Workshop in 1994. This same New York City off-Broadway theatre was also the musical’s initial home following its official January 25, 1996, opening.

The show’s creator, Jonathan Larson, died suddenly the night before the off-Broadway premiere. The show won a Pulitzer Prize, and the production was a hit. The musical moved to Broadway in April 1996. On Broadway, RENT gained critical acclaim and won a Tony Award for Best Musical among other awards. The Broadway production closed after a 12-year run and 5,124 performances, making it the eighth-longest-running Broadway show by that time. The success of the show led to several national tours and numerous foreign productions, and in 2005, it was also adapted into a motion picture.

The above theatre poster published on wikipedia is of the original production of “La Boheme.”     The 1996 musical, “Rent” is loosely based on this classic opera by Puccini written 100 years before.      Here’s more about the two  from WiseGeek:

Rent and La Boheme are both set in cities considered as havens for artists, New York and Paris. The reality behind the romantic tourist images of both cities are clearly proved false by the two stories. In early scenes in Rent and La Boheme, characters are forced to burn manuscript pages in order to stay warm, not being able to afford firewood, or in the modern version, the heating bills.

Both Rent and La Boheme describe the devastation of a disease considered a feature of lower-class or artistic existence. In La Boheme one of the main characters, Mimi, is afflicted with tuberculosis, a deadly and highly infective disease still common throughout the world today. In Rent the plague is AIDS, and has spread to many of the characters, half of whom are infected with the illness.

“Rent” was made into a movie in 2005.   Here’s one of the very popular songs from this musical performed by the cast of the movie:

Listen to the Story with Director Scott Dunlap:


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