Some characters in musical ‘Rent’ enthrall

Ana Ruth Lugo Mejia

Ana Ruth Lugo Mejia, Multi-Media Managing Editor

Recently, at the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center the production of the Broadway musical “Rent” gave a performance. “Rent” is on its twentieth-anniversary tour and it was to say the least quite enjoyable. A packed Wagner Noel audience cheered and clapped after every song, especially after David Merino (who performed as Angel Schunard) finished his first song “Today 4 U”.

If you like me, have never heard until recently about the musical here’s a little summary of it: Written by Jonathan Larson, who by the way won a Pulitzer Prize for it, “Rent” debuted in 1996. “Rent” is a rock musical which is said to be based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Boheme. It is set in New York City’s East Village during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It follows the life of a group of friends and it takes place over a year of their lives. The musical narrates how this group of friends struggles to survive enduring illness, AIDS, prejudice, poverty and of course it is a story about life and love. There’s Mark (an aspiring filmmaker who narrates his friend’s adventures through his old-fashioned camera) then you have Roger, his roommate, who is a musician living with HIV. Then there’s Mimi, an exotic dancer, HIV positive also. Joanne is an Ivy League student educated as a public interest lawyer for whom Maureen, a bisexual artist who cannot stay faithful to her lover, left Mark, and then there’s Angel, probably the most controversial character, is a gay men and HIV positive who wears women’s clothing. Angel becomes Tom Collin’s lover who also has AIDS.

Although half of the time I was trying to understand what was going on, I was immersed in the great production and the quality of the acting. Some of the actors really submerged into their roles more than others and their performances were (in my opinion)

Ana Ruth Lugo Mejia
A view of the intricate stage set of the musical “Rent.”

more memorable. Two that stood out for me were Angel and Maureen. They were really free and comfortable on stage and in every song they sang they gave their all.

I am left with many good quotes like “no day but today,” “there’s only now,” “there’s only here.” “Give into love or live in fear.” The musical explores many topics perhaps unknown to twenty-first century students but it leaves us with a great lesson to live for the moment.  Viva la vie boheme.