The entrance of Kushnier coincides with the Friday exit of Frenchie Davis, the "American Idol" belter who has been playing the "Seasons of Love" soloist in Rent for the past several months. She heads to the West Coast for a production of Dreamgirls, playing Effie at three not-for-profit theatres in a co-production arrangement.
Gwen Stewart, the original-cast "Seasons of Love" singer now returns to the role.
Kushnier appeared in the Canadian companies of Rent and The Who's Tommy and starred in the regional run of The Rhythm Club, at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA.
Rent, a pop-rock take on the opera, La Boheme, is re-set in the East Village section of New York at the end of the 20th-century. The tale of artists and lovers struggling was a sensation when it first appeared Off-Broadway in 1996, winning the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Lyricist composer-librettist Jonathan Larson died of an undiagnosed heart ailment prior to the show's Off Broadway bow at New York Theatre Workshop, never seeing the show as an international smash.