If you’re looking for a way to ease gently into the Christmas bubble, and witness some serious talent – Music Theatre South’s Rent at The Stage Door in Southampton is definitely the place to do it.
With elements drawn directly from Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème, RENT is one show that needs no introduction – anyone who has ever had a whiff of musical-theatre-love knows the rock opera. Equipped with it’s dark undertones – surviving with Aids, escaping winter when you’re homeless and beating the sell-your-soul-to-the-rich mindset – it still manages to create witty fun loving atmosphere.
On arrival it was noticeably cold, poetically so – setting the scene in this New York based apartment. Eviction notices are strewn along the floor and screaming from the walls, and dark hooded figures pace back and fourth.
I saw a Burlesque Cabaret in the same venue two weeks ago, and I was impressed at the complete adaptation of the space. It was placed as an intimate reverse in the round theatre, which resulted in most of the audience playing ping pong with their heads. It was invigorating – it made it acceptable to whoop, laugh, cheer and cry. Oh, and Moo. It was impossible not to get soaked up in the drama. I had to keep convincing myself ‘no Lauren, you must not cry, you must critique!’ The venue was perfect for the show – a lack of props or major scenery changes, is exactly what it needed.
I’m not going to be careful not to take you through step by step – as I assume your curiosity will get the better of you and you will take a trip to see this wonderful show.
We were introduced at first to Mark and Roger, our main duo. Mark, played by Matt McGrath, was a little stiff at first (which is not a criticism), a little awkward, and that was exactly how I imagine his character to be. He grows into it, just like his character develops throughout the plot. Roger, played by James Taylor, was equally spot on with his portrayal of the heartbroken HIV positive struggling musician.
Adam Myers and Daniel N’Guessan-Lopez, Tom and Angel respectively, were strong from the outset. Their chemistry was breathtaking, and I believed it straight from the start. These two were people I would’ve cast in the exact same roles – they’re the actors you dream of auditioning when you decide you’re putting on Rent. Adam ripped my heart to shreds during the second act.
Another two that shone brightly from the cast list, was Georgia Walton (Joanne) and Jade Nicholas (Maureen – with that cute wig, ha!). I can’t put into words how incredible their voices are – that’s hands down the best performance of Take Me or Leave Me I have ever heard. Even without the rest of the cast oozing talent, I would go and see it based on that song alone. Even though the role of Joanne was perfect for Miss Walton, my only criticism of the entire show was that I didn’t see or hear enough of her.
Now ensemble – well the ensemble shouldn’t even be called ensemble. Ensemble doesn’t signify the extreme amount of talent in each and every single role. What was great about the production, was that even though they were ‘ensemble’, they still got the chance to showcase their voices. Watch out for Imogen Johnson singing that bit in Seasons Of Love. She gave me shivers.
Raw sexual chemistry filled the entire room from start to finish – especially during the dimly lit, dirty, writhing choreography to Contact.
Congratulations to the creative team – Samuel Quested (Director), Louise Heyler (Musical Director) and James RH Sayers (Choreographer) – for such an excellent execution of a show that is hard to get right. I’m keen to return to review your next production!
Luckily for you, if you buy your tickets today there’s an extra £5 off! Got to love Black Friday deals! Rent runs until Saturday the 5th of December.
PS. Psssssssst! Remember how I’ve been nominated as one of the final five Bloggers Of The Year in the Charity and Social category for the Bloggers Lounge Awards?! Well you can now VOTE! Click this link, head to the Charity section, and vote for Courage Is Not An Option. No sign up or details necessary – just hit submit! I’ll love you forever!