Review By Louisa Polson
Finding time to get to the theatre in amongst the business of life and working to pay the rent can be a challenge. However, you do not need to travel into the city to witness a high-quality piece of theatre this week, as Miranda Musical Theatre Company’s truly fantastic rendition of the much-loved musical production of RENT is playing in newly refurbished and rebranded, Pavilion Performing Arts Centre in Sutherland.
RENT is a must-see musical for all musical theatre lovers, and if you are yet to experience this musical, Miranda Musical Theatre Company’s production is the perfect fit. The original musical written by Jonathan Larson premiered on Broadway in 1996. It tells the story of a group of young “bohemians” as they try to find their feet and their dreams in the midst of eviction, addiction, and the reality of the AIDS pandemic. The musical is beautifully layered with multiple perspectives, shining light on harsh cultural and societal issues of the early nineties. The musical has been thrusted back into the zeitgeist of late following the popularisation of Larson’s other works, ‘Tick, tick, boom’ making its way on screen, leading audiences to re-discover and fall in love with his body of work.
As you take your seats the stage is already visible with an industrial style split level loft covered in graffiti that confirm you are in the streets of New York City. The iconic make-shift Christmas tree sits in the corner of the stage with subtle lighting elements that help keep the story moving forward. Sam Anderson (Mark Cohen) and Tyler Hoggard (Roger Davis) are the first to appear on stage, with thick New York accents they set the scene. A powerful duo from the start, they work playfully to guide the story of this rock musical. From this point early on, you become aware that the calibre of singing within this performance is truly top tier.
The audience is spoilt for choice with eight spectacular principal actors who all harness exceptional talent. Rachel Amanda Thomas (Joanne Jefferson) does a fantastic job of playing one of the arguably more understated characters of the show. Rachel gives life to her character and the show with witty comedic charm that takes the edge off the sadder moments. True emotion is felt in the relationship between Barry Backhouse (Angel Dumott Schunard) and Haji Myrteza (Tom Collins), their chemistry makes your heart jitter as you watch their story. Punching through with her performance of ‘Out tonight’, Natasha Tsafis (Mimi) is dynamo in the role of Mimi. Natasha shows great range as she expertly portrays the light and dark of her character’s arc.
Miranda Musical Theatre Company has left no stone unturned; each theatrical element has been meticulously and purposefully put into place to bring this story to life. The costuming is grungy, playful, and even a little bit cheeky. The aspect of live music elevates the excitement of watching theatre. It was encapsulating to see the team on stage perform in tandem with the musicians in the orchestra pit.
This production did not hold back or limit themselves in anyway. Talent oozes from the entire cast, with no character falling to the wayside. Each and every actor on stage, whether it be lead or ensemble, has a purpose to fill and fills it fabulously.
It is clear that this cast have worked extremely hard on their individual performances, but what truly shines though is their work as a united cast which translates onto the stage. The beauty of watching RENT is seeing how human connection can be so delicate and nurturing. This cast have dug deep to ensure the audience can witness the many ways relationships can form, fall apart and manifest all to the tune of the most gorgeous music.