Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How're We Gonna Pay?

Oh blogosphere, I know it's been far too long, and I have so much to blog about, but finals are kicking my butt! I turned in my independent study, but I have one more paper before I'm through. However, I wanted to take a break from that work to bring you a post about the production of RENT my roommate and I saw on Sunday night.

It was a student production done at the cabaret-style club near our apartment, where I saw Cabaret and where Amanda Palmer played a bunch of times. The spaces incredible for a minimalistic show like RENT, and they used it beautifully. The ensemble songs like "Rent" and "La Vie Boheme" were excellent, mostly because so much of the chorus just owned it. Angel and Mimi were also really talented.

The production made a few odd choices, though. The arc of Mimi's drug use wasn't clear--a shame because Mimi was great--which made her and Roger seem to be yo-yoing only because of Benny. Roger, therefore, seemed like a bit of a jerk, and the actor wasn't very strong in songs like "One Song Glory." I didn't believe he was dying. I didn't believe Mimi was dying, either, which makes me wonder: Are we too far out from the AIDS epidemic for a privileged group of Bostonians to do this show justice for a quick Christmas run? To understand the pains of young artists trying to make it in the East Village of the 90s? Ot was this just a group of musical theater students who haven't quite gotten the "acting" thing down yet? I'm not sur, but the part of my brain that critiqued a million shows during my days of high school theater woke up and wondered.

There was some whitewashing in the cast as well, which is unfortunately unsurprising in this town. Collins was white, which doesn't matter, except that his inability to nail the jazzy tone in "Santa Fe" called attention to this. Benny was Caucasian as well, and none of the typically-white (or, I guess, originally white) characters were different. In fact, the girl playing Maureen looked strikingly like Idina Menzel. It wasn't the specific racial choices that felt odd so much as the lack of diversity.

Still, it was my first time seeing the show live, meaning I can check something else off sixteen-year-old Chelsey's bucket list.


  1. RENT is my favourite show, and I also saw it live as a local production. It had flaws, but the raw material of RENT is so great that I was still crying by the end of the show. One of the oddest things, though, was, like you mentioned, the whitewashing. Mimi was the only character of colour in the show. Collins was FANTASTIC, probably the best actor in the show, but he was white, and the lack of cultural diversity definitely takes something away from the show.

    I enjoyed reading this!