‘RENT’ a little time for a Broadway mainstay | NevadaAppeal.com

‘RENT’ a little time for a Broadway mainstay

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer
photos by Joan Marcus/special to the appeal Chante Carmel Frierson and Tracy McDowell sing a duet.

For seven years, Jonathan Larson worked to get his idea onto the stages of New York.

With his play “Rent,” Larson wanted to put forth a message of hope, survival and living for today.

Since the play’s debut off-Broadway on Feb. 13, 1996, it has become one of the most popular and acclaimed theatrical works performed.

“Rent” is being performed at 8 p.m. Feb. 23-24 with a 2 p.m. matinee on Feb. 24 at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts. The performance is part of the “Broadway Comes to Reno” program.

The show has received multiple Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was on the cover of “Newsweek,” and the cast was asked to sing at the 1996 Democratic National Convention.

It has been turned into a motion picture, and continues to be performed on Broadway, making it the seventh-longest-running show in Broadway history.

Yet, Larson never knew about the success of his creation. He died suddenly of an aortic aneurysm on Jan. 25, 1996, just hours after the show’s dress rehearsal and 10 days before his 36th birthday.

The show is based in New York’s East Village, and revolves around a group of friends struggling to survive, figure out who they are, and deal with the complicated relationships with each other and the outside world.

The show touches on several graphic themes, including living with AIDS, sexuality and overcoming drug use, but is focused around a unifying message – living for the moment.

Several of the songs from the show have garnered attention outside of the theater world, including “Seasons of Love” and “What You Own.”

“Rent” features musical direction by Tim Weil, choreography by Marlies Yearby, set design by Paul Clay, costume design by Angela Wendt and lighting design by Blake Burba.

The “Broadway Comes to Reno” program is in its 12th year at the Pioneer Center. Producers will announce the 2007-08 schedule in March.

The 2006-07 season included “Jesus Christ: Superstar,” “Camelot” and “Chicago.” It will conclude with “Aida,” from March 16-18.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.

If you go

What: “Rent,” presented as part of the “Broadway Comes to Reno” series

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 23-24 and 2 p.m. Feb. 24

Where: Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in Reno

Tickets: $35-75, depending on performance and section. Can be purchased at http://www.pioneercenter.com or Ticketmaster outlets