The Waterworks Players spring production is Rent, a rock opera based on Puccini’s opera La Boheme. Set in New York’s East Village, Rent is an emotionally stirring story of an impoverished community of young artists and musicians trying to survive and create in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of AIDS. After its debut in 1996, Rent won every major best musical award, including the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize for drama. When it played its final performance in 2008, Rent was the seventh longest running show in Broadway history. More importantly, Rent’s 12-year New York run transformed Broadway by changing how the younger generation felt about musical theatre.
Artistic Director, Dudley Sauve and Musical Director, Brenda Barringer have assembled an excellent cast of actors from Hampden-Sydney College, Longwood University, and the local community for Southside Virginia’s premier production of Rent. Rick Neller plays the role of Mark Cohen, a struggling documentary filmmaker and best friend of Roger Davis, an HIV-positive musician who is recovering from heroin addiction played by Kevin Jones. Katie Robey is cast as Mimi Marquez; a sexy HIV-positive stripper and dancer who is also a heroin junkie and Roger’s love interest.
Caroline Kramen plays the spunky performance artist Maureen Johnson, who is Mark’s ex-girlfriend and current girlfriend of Joanne Jefferson, a tough, headstrong Harvard-educated lawyer played by Erin Wind.
Tom Collins, the HIV-positive philosophy teacher, friend and former roommate of Roger, Mark, and Maureen is played by Justin Smith. Carlos Galicia is cast in the role of Angel, an HIV-positive Drag Queen with a heart of gold and Tom Collins’ love interest. Benjamin “Benny” Coffin III, played by Matt Spalding, is the former friend and landlord of Mark, Roger, and Mimi’s apartment.
The show’s music and lyrics were written by Jonathan Larson, who died unexpectedly of an aortic aneurysm the night before the show’s first performance. Songs incorporate a variety of music genres, including dance pop, salsa, R&B, and rock ‘n roll. Larson is also known for songs written for Sesame Street the music created for Steven Spielberg’s An American Tail and Land Before Time.
The rest of the ensemble includes Jennifer Abel, Jay Artis, Shelbi Bennett, Cheryl Hinterleitner, Walter McCoy, Christie Moore, JR Schipper, Marlowe Vilchez, and Donald Hicks who all take on many various roles throughout the show.
Rent is a story which addresses adult themes and controversial issues. Parental guidance is suggested. It is not recommended for children under 13.
Make reservations now to attend Waterworks Players’ production of Rent. Performances are at 8:00 pm on April 16, 17, 23 and 24. Tickets are $15. You can obtain tickets by calling the box office at 434-392-3452 or visiting the web site: https://waterworksplayers.org.