By: JACOB FROELICH
RENT now on its 20th Anniversary Tour needs no introduction as a Tony Award winning best musical for its debut year in 1996. At the time it changed the game for what a musical could be by drawing attention to the US HIV/AIDS epidemic. While HIV is a manageable condition today, there is still a lingering negative stigma affecting not only those who live with it but also irrational fear and misinformation regarding the virus. Just like those who HIV and AIDS affects today, RENT is about so much more than a diagnosis.
Jonathan Larson’s production is brought to life by an outstanding cast and crew in this 20th Anniversary Tour now playing at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis through Sunday, August 18th. The company holds nothing back in this story of life, and love and everything in-between. Experience the excitement that starts as a spark between couples, the anticipation of hopeful lovers, the frustration of a partner and the unenviable heartbreak that comes with love lost. The cast emotes all of this and more in a way that is both genuine and truly soul bearing. For those that know the story well, you will not be disappointed with the immense vocal talent on stage. And for those unfamiliar with the story, it’s quite possible you might just get blown away.
Particular standouts include Samantha Mbolekwa (Joanne) and Rayla Garske (Mrs. Jefferson, Woman with Bags and Others.) Listening to these actors emote through song is unifying and moving. The entire cast is pure delight, albeit an emotional roller coaster. The orchestra, conducted by Mark Binns, stands out for the nonstop musicianship, going from fast paced rock numbers and duets to carefully underscored moments of tension, hope and love.
RENT stands the test of time as both an engaging musical and brave testament to the power of love. There’s a lot to be distracted by in our busy world, but RENT and the characters we meet remind us of our power when we come together. This production directed by Evan Ensign is a true testament to the power of love and the difference a day can make with those you share love with.
RENT – 20th Anniversary Tour is now on stage at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. Tickets range from $40-$136 and limited public rush tickets are available for each performance for $25 a piece. Details and showtimes can be found at https://hennepintheatretrust.org/events/rent-broadway-tickets-minneapolis-mn-2019/ or by calling the State Theatre Box office at 800-982-2787.