Millbrook does a phenomenal job with Larson’s ‘Rent’ | News, Sports, Jobs



From the minute the lights come on to reveal a graffiti-riddled industrial loft in New York’s East Village, in Millbrook’s production of the musical “Lease,” we understand that we live on the edge. It’s Christmas Eve, in the late 80s or early 90s, and there’s “no room at Holiday Inn. »

A group of artists, struggling to survive while pursuing their creative dreams, have been reduced to using a burning barrel for heat, a tenuous extension cord for power – and now the owner is threatening to lock them out if they don’t. can’t find the rent.

Jonathan Larson, who wrote the lyrics, lyrics and music for this Pulitizer and Tony award-winning piece, uses “lease” in two different ways. Not only does this refer to the price required to survive, but it also means “torn by opposing forces”. The loose community, one step away from homelessness, must also live in the shadow of AIDS, not knowing what tomorrow holds. Life in general is tenuous, liable to be snuffed out—like Mimi’s candle—at any moment. Her life and that of her friends unfold against the backdrop of impending mortality, raising existential questions that permeate the play until its end. The song “Lease” request :

How can you connect to an era

Where strangers, owners, lovers,

Are your own blood cells betraying?

What binds the fabric

When the raging, shifting winds of change

Keep tearing up…

The fear and uncertainty caused by this combination of forces highlights the coping mechanisms of the characters – who represent a range of fascinating personalities and sexualities. In a series of relationships, all of which test the question of whether love can survive when planted on such rocky ground, the characters find excuses to resist their mutual attraction or allow jealousy or mistrust to interfere. The Millbrook cast does a great job of navigating these complexities.

Some highlights for me. Alicia Pedraza, as Mimi, is able to not only combine teasing sexuality with touching vulnerability, but also perform a feline balancing act on the railings of the barn’s central seating area at an incredible moment in the show. Another highlight is Alberto Blanco, as Angel, who swings convincingly between male and female identities – and is praised (rightly) for “to be so much more original than any of us.” Kudos to Terrell Jenkins, Costume Designer, for matching Christmas tree shoulder pads with green hair!

And third, a big thank you to Adeleke Goring (Mordred in Camelot, Barry in “Jersey Boys”) who plays Tom Collins, in a role that seems made for him. For me, the relationship between Tom and Angel is the strong emotional center of the play, and Adeleke – whose role demands that he be completely present to Angel as she struggles and suffers – radiates a compassionate presence, becoming the embodiment of a love that is strong enough to overcome (at least temporarily) the forces of poverty, disease and despair. In another pun “lease,” Tom sings:

I think they meant it

When they said you can’t buy love.

Now I know you can rent it,

A new lease… on life.

This is basically a piece about community. And the Ensemble (Colin Denehy, Megan Derbick, Kelly Long, Adam Marino, Brooke Reese, Kaidin Rogers and Nathan David Smith) – under the expert guidance of director and choreographer Alex Perez and musical director Ryan Edward Wise – skilfully navigate their transformations while creating a compelling container in which their community can thrive.

Yes, this is theater at its best – taking a particular moment of uncertainty and making it so powerfully alive that it comes to represent the choices we all face in the face of our mortality. We are told at one point (Maureen Tango): “There’s no future / There’s only here / Give in to love / Or live in fear.” And “Seasons of Love,” the song from the play which has become so popular that it is now performed at graduations, adds: “Measure your life, measure your life in love.”

“Lease” ran for 12 years, making it one of Broadway’s longest-running shows. For some reason, I never got to go. Many thanks to David Leidholdt and David Gritzner of Millbrook for getting us off Broadway. This is the last show of the season for Main Stage Ryan, which will run until August 7.

Get your tickets now!


Karen Elias lives in Swissdale. She has taught English for over 30 years, most recently at Lock Haven University and Penn College.

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