Starting July 1, Southern California will get a taste of New York's East Village when Rent, Jonathan Larson's Tony- and Pulitzer-winning rock musical, opens at the La Jolla Playhouse.
The production will be a homecoming of sorts. It was directed in New York by Michael Greif, artistic director of the La Jolla Playhouse. With the California opening, Greif unveils his phenomenal hit in his own theatre.
Like the Broadway production, the West Coast premiere of Rent in La Jolla, CA, will offer discount tickets to persistent early-birds. At all but three performances during the July 1- Sept. 14 run, 20 seats will be on sale for only $20. (Top tix sell for $65; the two shows on July 12 and the show on opening night, July 13, are not available at the discount.)
Not only do the $20 give lower-income theatregoers a chance to catch the show, they could end up being the only way to see the show if you haven't already purchased tickets. Production spokesperson Josh Ellis told Playbill On-Line that tickets were still available for standing room and "P.S.R.O." (seats put behind the last row). "La Jolla doesn't like to use the term `sold out,'" said Ellis, because we don't want to discourage people, plus there are cancellations, etc. But advance sales have been incredibly wonderful."
The $20 seats are available to everyone (not just students), first-come, first-served, and are distributed at the box office only on noon on the day of performance for that day's matinee and evening show. These seats -- two per person only -- wil be in front of the first row of orchestra chairs. Tickets are also available for the special "Rent Event," 7 PM, July 12, a benefit to support La Jolla Playhouse's artistic and educational programs. An "East Village Street Party" will follow the evening's performance, with tickets for both ranging from $125-$1,000.
La Jolla Artistic Director Michael Greif will repeat his Obie-winning direction of Jonathan Larson's alternative-rock retelling of the La Boheme story. The show can only run through Sept. 14 because then it goes on a national tour with the same cast, starting in Los Angeles.
Here is the La Jolla/tour cast of Rent:
Neil Patrick Harris (Mark) - best known for playing Doogie Howser M.D. on TV, he also starred Off-Broadway in James Lapine's Luck, Pluck & Virtue. Mark, the documentary film-maker, is played by Anthony Rapp on Broadway.
Sharon Brown (soloist on "Seasons Of Love") - played Effie in Dreamgirls on Broadway.
Wilson Cruz (Angel) - played Ricky on TV's "My So-Called Life."
D'Monroe (Benny) - played in the Boston company of Rent. Rent.
Also in the cast are Carla Bianco, Kevyn Brackett, Hallie Bulliet, Monique Daniels, Laura Days, Leigh Hetherington (Maureen), Sala Iwamatsu, Owen Johnston II, Christan Mena (Roger) Christopher Patric, Kenna Ramsey (Joanne), Julia Santana (Mimi -- the role originated by Daphen Rubin Vega), Andy Senor, Curt Skinner, Paul Oakley Stovall and Brent Davin Vance.
Auditions were held in L.A., San Diego and New York. "People flew all over the country for these auditions," La Jolla associate spokesperson, Mary Lee Warning said.
Greif's entire New York design team -- set designer Paul Clay, costumer Angela Wendt, lighting designer Blake Burba and sound designer Kurt Fischer -- will recreate their work at La Jolla. The production is being billed as the centerpiece of the theatre's 50th anniversary season.
Tickets to the La Jolla Rent can be purchased through the box office, at (619) 550-1010. For the rest of the season, which includes the world premiere of Barry Manilow's musical, Harmony, refer to the La Jolla Playhouse regional listing on Playbill On-Line.