Rent – It’s About Life, Love, Acceptance and Learning

ACT - San Diego Brings Rent – School Edition to the Lyceum

August 7 – August 16, 2009 

Michelle Cabinian (double cast as Mimi with Judy Mora) and Matt Maretz (double cast as Roger with Hunter Schwarz) get into character for Rent - School Edition.“How about Love?” asks the lyric from “Seasons of Love” in Rent – School Edition.  And that is the central question uniting a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East side during the thriving days of the Bohemian East Village. This groundbreaking rock musical based on Puccini’s La Bohème took Broadway by storm in 1996, winning multiple Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize.

The narrator guides us on a one year tour of change for the main characters as they deal with relationships, loss, AIDS, sexuality, drug use, death and acceptance. It is a powerful story in which love prevails. The wonderful music includes "Seasons of Love,” "Light My Candle,” “I’ll Cover You” and "No Day But Today.”

Directed by renowned San Diego actress and director, Leigh Scarritt, choreographed by Tiffany Jane, the 2009 soloist winner of Musicpalooza at the Del Mar Fair and featuring some of San Diego’s most talented young performers, including several winners of the 2009 National Youth Theatre Awards, ACT - San Diego brings this powerful musical to life with passion and sincerity.

Francis Parker student and Tierrasanta resident Molly O’Meara adds her many talents to this production. For her young age, her theatrical talents are considerable. She has appeared in productions at Moonlight, North Coast Rep and the San Diego Civic. Her roles include Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden, Toto in The Wiz and Annie in Annie. Molly is also a Junior company member of the California Ballet. Molly and her fellow cast members have been rehearsing tirelessly since mid-June to make this production a must see.  Cast and crew feel it is a valuable story to tell.

In fact, the ACT - San Diego board moved quickly when they learned the rights to the school edition of Rent were available. ACT - San Diego was the first youth community theatre group to reserve the rights to perform the show. All involved felt this was an important opportunity. Director Leigh Scarritt explains it this way: 

Rent allows us to be on the inside of what it feels to be an outsider -- outside the 'norm' of socially accepted lifestyle, behavior and expression. What better storytellers than youth?  That is the reason we chose to celebrate the high school version of Rent.  The full version is out there, but youth telling this story brings it home to our upcoming generation.  My generation paid a high price for living without information. This upcoming group of young people need to be reminded, as we all do, of the privilege of living in our truth and evolving to be who we were born to be, but never using that freedom as a disclaimer for self-destructive behavior. Being who we really are is never about destruction inward or outward. It is about truth. Living without appropriate boundaries has consequences. Truth. Rent displays this journey through the eyes of these young people. They are our storytellers and I hope we are listening.”

The cast is listening.  Beneath the beautiful music, the dance numbers and the excitement of putting a show together, the point is clear. Hunter Schwarz, age 14, double cast as Roger in this production finds revelation in his character.  “I am playing Roger who had a one night stand with a girl. He thought he was invincible, and now he’s HIV positive. One night changed his entire life.”

Rent – School Edition produced by ACT- San Diego takes place August 7 through August 16 at the Lyceum Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza, San Diego 92101. Recommended for audiences thirteen and above. Tickets cost $18 to $25. To purchase tickets, please visit For more information about ACT – San Diego, please call 858.777.9899.

ACT – San Diego Partners with Mama’s Pantry During Rent – School Edition

 ACT – San Diego is pleased to partner with Mama’s Pantry during this production of Rent  - School Edition. Mama’s Pantry was created by Mama’s Kitchen to provide a nutritional shopping opportunity for men, women and children of San Diego County affected by HIV and AIDS.

Donation barrels located in the lobby of the Lyceum Theatre Space will allow audience members to donate one or more items from Mama’s Pantry’s wish list to the program during any of the shows. Mama’s Pantry gratefully accepts any of these items:

Box of Cereal

Package of Flour

Instant Oatmeal Packets

Bottle Cooking Oil

Jar of Peanut Butter

Jar of Jelly

Bag of Rice

Package of Dried Beans

Spaghetti Sauce

Box of Pasta

Packets of Pasta Dinners

Canned goods – Fruits, Soups, Vegetables, Chili, Pasta & Beans

Macaroni & Cheese

Tuna Fish/Salmon

Cake Mixes & Icing

Small Box of Dry Milk 

Rent – The School Edition Show Dates

Friday, August 7

   7:30 pm

Saturday, August 8

   2 pm & 7:30 pm

Sunday, August 9

   1 pm & 5 pm

Wednesday, August 12

   7:30 pm

Thursday, August 13

   7:30 pm

Friday, August 14

   7:30 pm

Saturday, August 15

   2 pm & 7:30 pm

Sunday, August 16

   1 pm & 5 pm

Actors' Conservatory Theatre (ACT) – San Diego is an exciting new theatre company for young people.  ACT’s mission is to provide educational and artistic opportunities for young actors to perform act and learn the art of stagecraft in a fun, satisfying, yet highly professional environment.  ACT produces youth theatre productions of the highest quality available in San Diego with a production staff led by professional directors and choreographers dedicated to teaching a craft and sharing a passion for theatre arts.     858.777.9899 

Cast of Rent – School Edition by Neighborhood


Derrick Gaffney 


Michelle Cabinian 


Benjy Malings

Emma Stratton 

Carmel Valley

Nicole Athill 

Jordan Cavanaugh

Eric Huckabee

Zoe Katz

Matt Maretz 

Alex Nassar 

Hunter Schwarz  


Kelli Colarusso

Judy Mora

Karina Rodriquez 


Kaitlyn Baker

Ross Warren 

Del Mar

Peter Hoban 


Lily Detwiler

Molly Duffy

Antonio Romero

Kaleigh Stegman 

La Jolla

Sarah Knapp 

La Mesa

Lea Fung

Chelsea Gustafson

Austin Potts 

Rañcho Penasquitos

Rachel Pence

Ben Silbert

Rayna Starr 

Rancho Santa Fe

Kyra Heenan

Izzy Leung 

Scripps Ranch

Dylan Hoffinger

Tina Peterson  

Solana Beach

Marissa Lebert

Torrey Mercer 

Spring Valley

Jeremy Payne 


Molly O’Meara 





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