The Australian premiere of the Broadway musical smash, Rent, happens tonight, Nov. 4. Previews began Oct. 21 at Sydney's Theatre Royal for this newest touring company of the downtown-moved-uptown hit.
Sydney's production has a Rent-ish mixture of musicians and actors. Roger Corser, a 25-year-old guitarist for the band Hype, plays Roger, with fellow musicians Michelle Smith (of the techno dance band Whip and the rock/pop group, Magnetic) as Maureen and Genevieve Davis (who has sung at Albert Hall with Sting and Elton John) as Joanne. Christine Anu (Bad Boy Johnny, Little Shop Of Horrors) is Mimi; Justin Smith (Jesus Christ Superstar) is Mark; and Opell Ross (Wogarama, Penny Arcade's Sex & Censorship Show) performs Angel. Others in the cast include Miguel Ayesa, Natalie Bassingthwaite, Fiona Choi, Annie Crummer, Kathleen De Leon, Matthew Lee, Cecilia Low, Peter Murphy, Thern Reynolds, Prinnie Stevens, and Jonathan Stuart.
Jonathan Larson's musical Rent relocates the La Boheme story to AIDS-era East Village, New York. A penniless artist's (Roger) passion for a young woman (Mimi) grows even as illness consumes her; the poet Rodolfo is now punk rocker Roger; tubercular lacemaker Mimi is now an AIDS-infected dancer at an S&M nightclub; Painter Marcello is now filmmaker Mark Cohen, and so forth. The ending is different from the opera, but the theme of love enduring beyond all else remains. Songs include: "Seasons of Love," "Take Me or Leave Me," "Today 4 U," "Out Tonight" and "Santa Fe."
In the U.S., Rent not only swept the 1996 Tony awards, winning four in all, including Best Musical, but also garnered the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Produced by Kevin McCollum, Jeffery Seller, and Allan S. Gordon in association with Cameron Mackintosh and the Sydney Theatre Company, Australia's Rent is directed by Michael Grief, who staged the original production. The show has not announced a Sydney closing, but Rent is expected at Melbourne's Comedy Theatre in March 1999.
Tickets are $65-$48.50 and can be ordered either on-line at www.ticketmaster.com.au or by calling the Theatre/Arts Hotline at 011-61-136-100 .