She Thought She'd Be in the Audience That Night at Rent. She Ended Up Playing Mimi.

International News   She Thought She'd Be in the Audience That Night at Rent. She Ended Up Playing Mimi.
 
Performer Gabriela Garcia saved the day at U.K.'s Hope Mill Theatre, stepping in with just a few hours' notice.
Tom Francis, Gabriela Garcia, and Luke Bayer
Tom Francis, Gabriela Garcia, and Luke Bayer Courtesy of Kevin Wilson Public Relations

The Hope Mill production of Rent in Manchester, England, got a reprieve this week when performer Gabriela Garcia stepped into the role of Mimi, after the original performer fell ill (not COVID-related, the production says) with no understudies waiting in the wings. Three performances had been canceled already earlier this week.

Garcia, who has appeared in Royal Exchange's West Side Story and Rent director Luke Sheppard's production of In the Heights, was tapped after the creative team learned she had a ticket to see the show this week. Arriving in Manchester August 26 at 11 AM, she was quickly fitted for a costume, had a rehearsal with the music director, and squeezed in a run-through with the company before appearing in front of a paying audience that night. She is set to return to the show August 27.

"Dreams come true—all the times I performed ‘Out Tonight’ in my kitchen I was rehearsing for this moment without knowing it,” said Garcia. “Rent was my first show out of college… I saw it on Broadway years ago and I bought a Rent notepad. That same Rent notepad was the one I used last night to write down my track… what's life?!"

“After a year of canceled shows, it is always a last resort for us and as a small venue with a limited run, show [cancelations] can be very damaging to us, especially during our COVID recovery,” said William Whelton of the Hope Mill Theatre. “Watching Gabriela step into the role with such professionalism, passion and poise was truly overwhelming. We are eternally grateful to her for saving the show."

Rent continues its run through September 19. For more information about the production, click here.

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