Rent is one of those musicals that has always been on the list, but I’ve never got round to actually seeing. Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to the Rent press night at the Birmingham Old Rep Theatre. Steeped in history, The Old Rep is a Birmingham institution which houses some fabulous theatre gems.
It is currently home to Michael Neri’s production of Rent. For those that don’t know the story of Rent, it’s about a group of struggling artists living in New York City and dealing with HIV and Aids. Four of the seven lead cast members have either HIV or Aids and the story deals with the ramifications of that, intertwining three love stories to create a powerful story and love and friendship. Most people will know Rent from it’s very successful slot on Broadway, where it’s the 11th longest running musical there so I’m really glad it’s come to Birmingham for us to see.
I took my friend Jess with me as I know she loves the theatre too. The set for Rent is very basic but there are a few different levels and the use of the stage space was fantastic. I wasn’t expecting the whole story to be told through song (some musicals are, other’s aren’t) but I really enjoyed it. The main character ‘Mark’ played by Joe Ashman was fantastic and steered the performance along. The real star of the show for me was Rhys Owen who played Collins. His rendition of ‘I’ll Cover You’ earned him a standing ovation by some members of the audience.
While there were a few sound issues thought out the first act, the second became a lot more slick as it went on. My favourite number was ‘Seasons of Love’ which is probably Rent’s most well-known song. It has special memories for me as we sung it at one of our staff productions while I worked in summer camp. Rent was the first show I’ve seen at The Old Rep and both Jess and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Rent is running from the 26th July to the 30th July so you’ll have to be quick and you can pick up tickets from The Old Rep for £24!