January 26 marked the second anniversary of the legendary New York Theatre Workshop production of Rent -- which opened just days after the death of its young author, Jonathan Larson.
The Tony-winning production has proved to be a launching pad for the careers of all its original cast members. Here, a rundown of 'who went where' -- Daphne Rubin-Vega (Mimi) , Anthony Rapp (Mark) and Jesse L. Martin (Tom) will be seen in the workshop production of Scottish composer/lyricist/librettist Paul Scott Goodman's Bright Lights, Big City, an adaptation of the best-selling 1980s novel. The workshop, to be directed by Rent director Michael Greif, goes into rehearsal Feb. 3 and will be performed for an "invited audience only" during the last two weekends in Feb.
Adam Pascal (Roger) is currently playing numerous venues with his band, the Adam Pascal Band -- and can be seen Jan. 30 at the Elbow Room, 144 Bleecker Street, NY.
Idina Menzel (Maureen) was also asked to do the workshop of Bright Lights, Big City -- but she is 'otherwise engaged' in a recording studio, where she is working on a solo album for Hollywood Records (webpage www.idina.com). So far no tour dates or album release dates have been announced.
Gilles Chiasson (Man with Squeegee; Waiter; Others) is currently featured as Armand St. Just, Marguerite's younger brother, in The Scarlet Pimpernel at the Minskoff Theatre. Chiasson's showcase moment in Pimpernel is the second act duet with Christine Andreas, "You Are My Home" (originally recorded by Peabo Bryson and Linda Eder). Fredi Walker (Joanne) has formed her own production company, Big Spoon Productions and she reports that "Big Spoon has a number of pots on the fire," including the Cast Iron Spoon Cafe, a small gourmet coffee house and jazz club which she plans to open in the Ft. Greene section of Brooklyn.
Yassmin Allers, an original understudy, is now appearing in Paul Simon's The Capeman as part of the Doo-Wop Group and as a member of the ensemble.
Byron Utley (Christmas Caroler; Mr. Jefferson; Pastor; Others) is still with the cast of Rent as an ensemble member.
Gwen Stewart (Mrs. Jefferson; Woman with Bags; Others) is still with the cast of Rent, now playing the role of Joanne.
Aiko Nakasone (Alexi Darling; Roger's Mom; Others) has continued with the cast of Rent as an ensemble member.
Kristen Lee Kelly (Mark's Mom; Alison; Others) is also still with the cast of Rent, now playing the role of Maureen.
In addition, several of the original Renters are expected to join the upcoming London production of the show. Unconfirmed reports have it that the West End production will include Rapp, Pascal and Wilson Jermaine Heredia -- who won a Best Featured Actor Tony Award for his performance as Angel.