‘Rent’ Ends Mimes and Mummers’ Season of Love

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‘Rent’ Ends Mimes and Mummers’ Season of Love

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The case of Rent consisted of Rose Hill and Lincoln Center students who are passionate about theater.

The case of Rent consisted of Rose Hill and Lincoln Center students who are passionate about theater.

By Nicole Horton

The newest Mimes and Mummers production, an emotional adaptation of Rent, graced the Collins Auditorium stage from Feb. 26 to March 1. This Tony Award winning musical, described by members as “everyone’s dream show,” depicts the lives of young artists in New York City during the HIV/AIDS crisis.

The stage was sparse in regards to set, featuring mainly a fire escape and an outline of city buildings, where ensemble members mingled for most of the play. This meant that the actors, especially narrator and filmmaker Mark Cohen, would have to bring the audience into the characters’ world.

The play got off to a rocky start. The show opens in Mark and Roger’s apartment, played by Luke Witherell, FCRH ’16 and Christian Eble, FCRH ’18, respectively. As they sit talking in their apartment, the rest of the cast stands behind them as a group in the dark, which I found a bit distracting and out of place. I was glad that they later moved back towards the buildings, blending in as city dwellers. Also, Witherell was noticeably off-tune in the opening song “Tune Up #1.” As a narrator and main character, his acting chops were his strength is this production.

However, the number “Tango: Maureen” better suited him, as Mark relates to his ex-girlfriend Maureen’s new girlfriend, Joanne, played by Vanessa Agovida, FCRH ’16. As they take turns leading in the dance, he and Agovida created a perfectly awkward dynamic.

Agovida gave a memorable performance as Maureen’s (Laura Hetherington, FCLC ’17) more serious counterpart. The Ivy League-educated Joanne grows tired of performance artist Maureen’s flirtatious cheating ways, and Maureen looks to win her back in “Take Me or Leave Me.” It’s a great vocal moment for both performers. Hetherington also gave a very dramatic, sultry reading in her protest entitled “Over the Moon.” When she asked “Still thirsty?” I overheard the guy behind me respond, “Oh yeah,” which really says it all.

Eble shines in his portrayal of Roger and was a true highlight in the show. Two particularly strong vocal moments for him include “One Song Glory,” as he expresses his desire to write a hit song but fears he will not have enough time because of the virus, and when he later writes and sings this “one song” to his love interest Mimi, played by Meghan Bailey, FCLC ’18. Along with complementing one another vocally, Eble and Bailey have great chemistry, urging the audience to root for their romance as they face their own demons.

Chris Boland, FCRH ’16, gave an emotional portrayal of anarchist professor Tom Collins, Mark and Roger’s friend. He falls in love with Angel (Nick Lopresto, FCRH ’16), a drag queen and street percussionist who fits right in with the group. When Angel dies in Tom’s arms, it is a poignant moment for the group as they memorialize their close friend. Lopresto also brings lightheartedness to “Today 4 U” when he dances and jumps around in high heels while creating rhythm with drumsticks.

The entire cast harmonizes beautifully in one of the show’s most iconic songs, “Seasons of Love.” Another company number, “La Vie Bohème,” is a playful moment as they share their bohemian culture. Rent was certainly an ideal selection for the cast. It gave the members an opportunity to showcase their vocals and portray characters with emotional depth in a thought-provoking play.