While Joey Fatone prepares for his Aug. 28 opening night in the Broadway company of Rent, the second leg of the non-Equity national tour of the Broadway rock-musical sensation begins in Ft. Lauderdale's Broward Center, Aug. 27-Sept. 1.
The tour, executive produced by Ken Gentry, is directed by Michael Greif, who helmed on Broadway, and continues at least through spring 2003 in such cities as Wilkes-Barre, PA, Hamilton, Ontario, Elmira, NY, Concord, NH, Lawrence, KS, and Boise, ID, as well as major markets Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco, where the initial national tours previously had a presence. Dates through December have been made public.
The musical by lyricist-librettist-composer Jonathan Larson won the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Set in the East Village that was the young writer's stomping ground, the show is a modern-day La Bohème story with New York bohemians including a filmmaker, a rock songwriter, a club dancer and a performance artist. The work was hailed for representing the voice of AIDS era urban young people whose struggles (as in the Puccini opera that inspired it) had a kind of universality despite the time and specific setting. Larson died of an undiagnosed heart ailment on the eve of the show's Off-Broadway debut, before it exploded to international fame.
The new tour's musical direction is by Tim Weil. Choreography is by Marlies Yearby. Set design is by Paul Clay, with costumes by Angela Wendt and lighting by Blake Burba.
The previous non-Equity tour began in October 2001. A non-Equity sitdown of the show was considered for Denver, where the Denver Civic Theatre hoped to offer a long run, but the venture was cost-prohibitive for the local troupe, according to a report in The Denver Post.
This is not to suggest Rent is now available for wide licensing, however. Jeffrey Seller, one of Rent's producing partners, said there "is no intention of doing any licensing" immediately and that the Denver arrangement "was to be an experiment and not a precedent."
For more information on the tour, visit www.rentthetour.com.
The Broadway company of Rent continues at the Nederlander Theatre, with N Sync singer Joey Fatone in the role of Mark. For ticket information, call (212) 307-4100.