Review by Katie Duke:
I first saw Rent in 1998. I was 18 and had big dreams that I’d make it on Broadway just as soon as I moved to The Big Apple. As I sat in the audience tonight singly along in my head, I was surprised at how heartbreaking Rent really is. Death, disease, drug addiction, poverty, and homelessness are big issues that fill the stage. As a 36-year- old, I have a lot more life experience and couldn’t escape feeling empathy and longing for the characters on stage. The themes that seemed so groundbreaking in 1998 certainly held up to the problems of 2017, and the message of love rang loud and true.
The ensemble of the touring cast of Rent at The Paramount in Seattle was fantastic—strong voices and good dancers supported the main characters.Tim Ehrlich as Angel rocked “Today 4 U.” “Tango Maureen” was a personal favorite— Jasmine Easier as Joanne and Danny Harris Kornfeld as Mark were a silly dancing pair. The answering machine voicemails made me laugh every time and reminded me just how much our parents must miss and love us. It made me want to call my mom! Katie LaMark’s performance of “Over the Moon” as Maureen was superb. At times, I was distracted by some cheesy choreography and lead voices which were occasionally a little flat, but for the most part the music was excellent.
“Seasons of Love” is a personal favorite and I loved the way the cast lined up together at the front of the stage. It felt powerful and raw. I was less compelled by the love story of Mimi and Roger than I was by the sweet romance of Angel and Tom Collins (played last night by Bryson Bruce). Mimi and Roger’s relationship felt forced and abusive whereas Angel and Collins reflected mutual respect, admiration, and love. All in all, I highly recommend this show, especially for anyone who didn’t see it on Broadway back in the 90s. The show ends powerfully with a strong, united cast singing powerfully about the power of friendship and love.
RENT plays The Paramount in downtown Seattle now through February 26, 2017. Tickets here.
Photos by Carol Rosegg.