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Review

 

THE SHOW:  

Music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, loosely based on Giacomo Puccini's opera ďLa bohŤme.Ē 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical.  

Itís the rock musical of young bohemians and art and dreams, sickness and death, tolerance and making the most out of each year we have. Each season of love. Itís Jonathan Larsonís hit Rent, offering a glimpse into the lives of young twentysomething friends at a New York City skid row apartment during the late 1990s. The story tackles such mature subjects as drugs, AIDS, and sexuality. At the heart of it all are Roger and Mimi, both suffering from AIDS, Mimi still struggling with a drug addiction, Roger struggling to live while knowing how short his time may be.  

THE PRODUCTION:  

Theyíve definitely put something special together at Spotlight Youth Theatre with this production. This is the full production of Rent rather than the student version, and they donít hold back in the spirit of the show or in the telling of it. Director Kenny Grossman knows how to stage a rock musical while simultaneously coaxing out terrific characters and storytelling. And the cast he uses is a grouping of absolute all-stars.  

Jeremy Yampolsky and Trey DeGroodt ground the story as best friends/roommates Mark and Roger, kicking the show off by leading the strong opening numbers and delivering an especially compelling scene as they part ways, accusing each other of failing in their ideals while visibly regretting their hurtful words. Mariella DeAngelis is a stunning Mimi with fantastic vocals and dancing, playful (Light My Candle) and bold (Out Tonight) in her memorable duets with Trey DeGroodt, as well as vulnerable physically with disease and drugs, and mentally vulnerable with her feelings for Roger and her friends (Without You).  

Carly Nicole Grossman rocks it as fun, wild, and passionate Maureen Johnson including lots of creativity in her signature Over the Moon. While Ali Whitwell shines as Maureenís lawyer girlfriend Joanne Jefferson, doing an impressive tango with Maureenís ex-lover Mark in Tango Maureen and igniting the stage with Maureen herself in Take Me or Leave Me. Alex Acosta is a charismatic and lovable Angel who leads a nicely staged Today For You dressed up in a cool, unique 18th-century-ish Christmas-esque outfit (Naomi Jordon and Andi Marie Jordon as costume designers). Michael Schulz nails his role as Tom Collins as new boyfriend of Angel and old chums with Mark and Roger, including some deep-voiced vocals, an easy romantic relationship with Angel, and a powerful reprise of Iíll Cover You.  

A crack four-piece band saturates the intimate theater space with perfect instrumentals that donít overpower the vocals. That theater space hosts a well-designed stage by Bobby Sample and Clancy DeGroodt that includes fire escape balconies and glimpses of brick alleyway. Within that stage the entire cast of triple threats wows throughout, ensemble members always adding much to the show whether in the limelight or in the background, uninhibited and working in unison for the vision of the musical including powerful moments like the Support Group, Will I, and a funeral, a celebration of life while taunting wet blankets like their old friend and troublesome landlord Benny (excellent, genuine performance by John Batchan) with an amazing La Vie Boheme, and a gorgeous rendition of Seasons of Love. 

Performed January 16 - February 1, 2015

Rob Hopper
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Executive Director
National Youth Arts

~ Cast ~ 


  Add Artist Page
Mark: Jeremy Yampolsky
Roger: Trey Degroodt
Mimi: Mariella De Angelis
Benny: John Batchan
Maureen: Carly Grossman
Joanne: Ali Whitwell
Collins: Michael Schulz
Angel: Alex Acosta
Ensemble:
Payton Bioletto
Carly Makani Copp
Marley DeGroodt
Ally Landsdowne
Phoenix Briggs
Brandon Reyes
Eddie Tellez
Maggie Waller

Director: Kenny Grossman
Music Director: Mark 4Man
Choreographer: Lynzee 4Man
Costume Design: Naomi Jordon and Andi Marie Jordon
Hair and Make-Up Design: Angel DeMichael and Jacob Hamilton
Set Design: Bobby Sample and Clancy DeGroodt

   

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