September 15, 2010

'Rent' is season opener for Theater Emory

Theater Emory will open its 2010-2011 season focused on Pulitzer Prize-winning plays with the Broadway smash hit rock musical, “Rent” Sept. 30-Oct. 3.

With music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, this iconic production is based on the Giacomo Puccini opera, “La Bohème,” and follows a bohemian group of young New York artist and musician friends during the height of the AIDS epidemic.

Theater Emory is staging the performances in concert version.

“By not completely staging this production, there is a truth that will come from the songs that we feel will height this musical experience,” music director Bryan Mercer says about a concert version of this dynamic musical.

“There is a maturity and a more grounded feel. There is a different focus and a finer ability for our performers to act through the microphone to project the story to the audience..” Mercer adds.

A concert version of “Rent” provides the performers with a connectivity to one another onstage, almost with a chamber feel, he notes. Mercer will incorporate a five-piece rock band to accompany the cast.

“Rent” has become a cult classic since opening in 1996 on Broadway. The production became popular with college and high school students who did not witness the height of the AIDS crisis in America firsthand but could relate to the show’s youthful vitality and pop rock soundtrack.

Presenting “Rent” is an opportunity to educate students and create awareness about this not-so-distant tragic chapter in American history.

“I lived around the corner from Tompkins Square Park during the riots,” explains Mercer alluding to a scene from the production, “and I lost so many loved ones to AIDS.”

Sound design will be by Robert J. Turner and lighting design will be by Joseph Monaghan III. Costume coordinators are Emory College students Rachel Miller-Crews and Mary Oxford.

The performances are Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 3 at 2 p.m. in the Performing Arts Studio. Tickets ($18; $14 discount category members; $6 Emory students) are available from the Arts at Emory box office at 404.727.5050. Free parking is available in the Fishburne and Longstreet parking decks.

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