‘RENT’ takes Jerry Herman Ring Theatre by storm

Brittney Bomnin // Photo Editor

“RENT,” the record-breaking rock opera, will be epic as the University of Miami’s Department of Theatre Arts’ high-energy season comes to a close.
The Tony Award-winning musical, which was written by Jonathan Larson and based off of Giacomo Puccini’s legendary opera, “La Bohéme,” first premiered in 1996. It is about a group of young struggling artists during the 1980s on the Lower East Side of New York City. With its powerful contemporary rock score, the musical addresses issues such as poverty, drug-abuse, bisexuality and AIDS. Students and faculty have been developing, designing and rehearsing to adapt “RENT” to the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre’s unique circular stage.

“With the Broadway production, sometimes there was often too much activity on stage to        follow the story,” said Christine Kellogg, co-director and choreographer.

In rewriting much of the choreography, her and co-director, Bruce Miller, have focused on the plot.
“Doing it in the round has actually helped to tell the story… perhaps better,” Kellogg said.
These fresh transformations suit the long standing Broadway hit’s live-for-the-moment “No Day But Today” anthem.
“It’s about living for the here and now,” said Matt Mickenberg, a senior musical theatre major who plays Mark Cohen, the story’s narrator. “Forget about regretting things and just do it.”
This attitude, combined with the emphatic energy of the cast, has made this unique UM performance one of most fun productions he has been a part of, according to Mickenberg.
Considering the style of music and the themes explored, the theatre department is aiming to appeal to a broader college-aged audience.
“This is much more topical for this generation,” Kellogg said. “Many of our actors already knew the words and the score.”
The Broadway production ran for 12 years, making it the eighth-longest running show in history.
Kellogg, a former choreographer and professor from the University of California at Los Angeles who came to UM last year, is excited about the performance at UM.
“There are some extremely talented students here, and the tech team’s been pretty spectacular,” she said. “There’s been a good vibe with everyone.”
Mickenberg put it more simply, “It’s just gonna rock.”

David Sargent may be contacted at dsargent@themiamihurricane.com.

If you go:

What: “Rent”

Where: The Jerry Herman Ring Theatre

When: April 21-24 and 28-May 1 at 8 p.m.

April 24, 25 and May 1 at 2 p.m.

Cost: Students and Children             Weeknight/Matinees                        $10.00

Friday/Saturday Night                         $12.00

UM Faculty, Staff, Alumni             Weeknights/Matinees                         $16.00

Friday/Saturday Night                         $18.00

Adult                                                 Weeknight & Matinees                         $18.00

Friday/Saturday Night                         $22.00

Seniors                                     Weeknights/Matinees                         $16.00

Friday/Saturday Night                         $18.00

Totally Tuesday Performance: Tuesday, April 27 at 2 p.m. Free for students.