September 14, 1998
THEATRE REVIEW: 'Rent' rocks with heart, soul
by Deborah Stone
"Rent," the most widely celebrated Tony Award-winning musical of the 90s has come to Seattle's Moore Theatre.
This pulsating, electrifying rock opera, a hot, up-dated take on Puccini's "La Boheme," definitely lives up to its hype, taking audiences on a relentless, emotional rollercoaster ride for two and a half-hours. It is a gritty tale of young twenty-something artists and their dreams as they struggle to live, create and love in these disconnected times. The show tackles the serious issues of AIDS and homelessness with a raw, in-your-face approach, yet retains a positive life-affirming spirit throughout.
With a tight and talented ensemble giving passionate and gutsy performances, "Rent" is an intoxicating experience that penetrates both hearts and minds. The music is a mixture of rock, reggae, blues, salsa and balladry with a score of thirty glorious songs, including the memorable anthem "Seasons of Love," sung by the whole ensemble. It is the message from this song that so powerfully conveys to audiences the realization that time is fleeting, and each day of life must be lived to its fullest.
The cast alternates between belting out their songs and sweetly crooning them, each with a delivery that resonates sincerity and emotion. Over-the-top performances go to Andy Senor, as the endearing transvestite Angel, Julia Santana, as the vulnerable, wild child Mimi, and Adrian Lewis Morgan, as Roger, the restless, brooding rock musician who falls in love with Mimi. It is the relationships in the show that give it humanity and emphasize caring for one another with dignity and compassion.
The characters, dressed in thriftshop, streetwise clothes, connect with each other on a junkyard sculpture set and share their space with an on-stage electrical band.
"Rent" runs through Nov. 8. For ticket information call 206-292-ARTS.