RENT at Riverside!

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COLERAINE’S Riverside Theatre will be hosting a production of Rent, this Saturday evening, 23rd June at 8pm.

Rent is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème.

It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. It takes place in 1998-2000.

The musical was first seen in a limited three-week workshop production at New York Theatre Workshop in 1994. This same New York City off-Broadway theatre was also the musical’s initial home following its official January 25, 1996 opening. The show won a Pulitzer Prize, and the production was a hit. The musical moved to Broadway’s larger Nederlander Theatre on April 29, 1996. On Broadway, Rent gained critical acclaim and won a Tony Award for Best Musical among other awards.

The show’s director, Portrush-based Victoria Lagan, explained why she had chosen this particularly ambitious piece.

“Rent was always a show I had hoped to one day direct and choreograph - it’s very modern which will hopefully be an exciting change for the audiences in this area,” she said.

“Because it’s so contemporary it leaves plenty of room for a director to be put their own twists on the staging and interpretations. It’s not very often that musical theatre productions are based on such real and serious issues such as fascism, AIDS and drug awareness; therefore it has been a long a difficult journey for the cast to learn to develop an in-depth understanding of these situations.

“We had to spend many rehearsals working on Stanslavski and Brecht theories such as memory work, objectives and various other practitioners’ ideas to allow the cast to be able to tap into some real emotions through their performances”.

Victoria continued: “Our auditions were in the first week of February where each member had to perform a song, script work, take part in a vocal range test and be examined on their basic techniques for dance.

“We had several call back auditions before our cast was finally decided. North Coast Theatre Productions pride themselves in finding new/undiscovered talent.

“What may surprise our audiences is that two of our principal male cast members - Paul Cullen (Playing Tom Collins) and Callum McKeeman (Playing Benny Coffin) have never performed in a Musical Theatre Production before - so it will be an especially exciting opportunity for them both!

“Every production of “RENT” has used a lack of choreography as it isn’t your typical happy musical theatre singing and dancing show however I have chosen to test those boundaries by incorporating a range of contemporary and ballet techniques with choreography throughout the show.

“We are now currently in the stage of our full run-throughs and it’s incredible to watch all the all the drama and dance techniques combined against the difficult rock styled harmonies. The show requires a certain element of simplicity in costume and set, however I feel that that only enhances the talent being displayed.

“North Coast Theatre Productions require no ‘razzle dazzle’ just real acting with intense vocal melodies. It is certainly not a performance to be missed!”

Tickets are available online, 24/7, by logging onto www.riversidetheatre.org.uk