Despite the odd technical hitch, Rent proved to be a thoroughly entertaining spectacle, writes Reidin Vaughan.
RENT IS A hit Broadway musical that premiered back in the Nineties. Set in New York, it follows a year in the life of eight friends who have to deal with various issues such as poverty, homosexuality, and drug-addiction. The UCD encore performance of this iconic piece was thankfully of a high standard and a tribute to all the people involved.
However, for the revival performance of Rent, it was a pity to see small technical faults bring down the overall performance. Lighting seemed to be at the discretion of the crew and total blackouts of the stage in the middle of key performances were commonplace.
Similarly, those monitoring sound and microphones didn’t seem to be all that familiar with the songs. They muted several cast members’ microphones during solo pieces and generally couldn’t get the music and microphone balance correct.
Although the music is integral to the plot, the fact that the audience were unable to hear dialogue at some points was another poor reflection on the technical crew.
With regard to the performers themselves, the entire cast was clearly talented and committed to the project. They made up for the technical faults with enthusiasm and a pure, infectious joy.
A few actors did let nerves get the better of them in the opening scenes. Joanne’s (Emily Carroll) voice shook during her solo sections of ‘Seasons of Love’, and Mimi (Aisling Billington) was unable to hold her high register during the more energetic songs. However, as the performance progressed, the singers became more sure of themselves and of the audience’s positive reception.
While every member of the cast showed talent, there were a few breakout performances that are worth mentioning. Emily Leonard, who played Maureen, deserves special recognition. Where others may have lost American accents after the intermission or wilted in their delivery of lines, Leonard was perfection to the last moment.
Also notable was Denis Grindel, who took on the role of Angel. His exuberant dancing and singing engaged the audience and created a bond with them – so much so that during his death scene, several spectators were overcome with emotion.
Therefore, it was with the acting and singing of the cast that Rent truly excelled. Characters were believable, songs were well-performed and the stage and costumes were above what was to be expected for a college performance. That is why the small faults that did take place were so aggravating.