In an unprecedented coup for regional theatre, the acclaimed musical Rent will have its West Coast premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse as part of its 50th Anniversary celebrations in 1997.
The engagement is not entirely unexpected. After all, La Jolla's artistic director, Michael Greif, directed the production at the New York Theatre Workshop prior to the musical's move uptown. But it is unusual that a show, having been anointed with commercial success on Broadway, should return to a non-profit venue--particularly since the commercial theatre center of every major metropolis has been licking its chops to get in on the show's phenomenal success.
"I think it shows the producers' commitment to theatres that nurture new works," said the 37-year-old Greif. "Rent has never been about ticket sales and awards, and I think it's in that spirit that the producers have made this decision."
Allan S. Gordon, who co-produced the show with Kevin McCollum and Jeffrey Seller, observed, "It makes a lot of sense artistically, and we wanted to help celebrate La Jolla's achievements over the years. We also felt that it wouldn't steal the thunder from the Los Angeles engagement that will happen later. It may even help it, taking the edge off the commercial expectations, something that regional theatre does best."
-- By Patrick Pacheco