Relevant and entertaining musical “RENT” is outstanding!

3/19/2014, 12:19 p.m.
"RENT", the musical now underway way through April 6 at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora, is as moving and relevant ...

"RENT", the musical now playing through April 6 at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora, is as moving and relevant today, as it was when it began as an off-Broadway experimental theatre reading in 1996. The musical premiered 100 years to the day after the opera that inspired it, Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme. Only instead of telling the pitfalls and struggles of starving artists living in a drafty Garrett in Paris's Latin Quarter, "Rent’s” creator, John Larson shifted the action to New York's dicey East Village. Instead of battling tuberculosis, the scourge of 19th century Europe, Larson's characters are battling HIV/AIDS. Like a character out of his own play, Larson himself succumbed to the disease; he died of an aortic aneurysm just hours before the scheduled off-Broadway premiere at the New York Theatre Workshop. The power of Larson's story and its characters, the compelling rock music and the tragedy of his death propelled the play into the stratosphere. It won a Pulitzer Prize and then four TONY AWARDS, including Best Musical, and then became the tenth longest running show on Broadway with a 12-year run and over 5,000 performances.

Seeing the Broadway at the Paramount revival by the show's director Jim Corti and music director and conductor Shawn Stengel, its easy to see why the show has not only withstood the test of time, but delivers a message that is just as powerful today as it was when it opened 18 years ago. The superb cast and hard driving five-piece band also deliver Larson's heartfelt music with a vitality that still connects to today's audiences.

When Larson conceived RENT in the 1980s, he said he want to create a theatre experience that connected with the MTV generation. Since that time, that generation has grown up, but the problems, struggles and social concerns that fostered RENT remain as troublesome today as they did then.

Adaeze Kelly sizzles as Mimi. Adam Michaels brings a gritty authority and forceful voice to the character of Roger. Andrew M. Mueller was engaging as Mark. The outstanding cast was only outdone by the rockin' five-piece band that kept Larson's exhaustive 42 song-list moving along at a roof-raising pace. RENT got, and deserved, a standing ovation! This is the final show of the season and a must see!