The show goes on

Protesters steer clear of opening night of 'Rent'

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Andy Renfrew, a Lake City Playhouse board member, waits for ticket purchasers an hour before showtime Friday for the sold out, opening night performance of "Rent" at the Coeur d'Alene theater.

COEUR d'ALENE - Three security guards waited outside.

Cameras rolled inside.

Theater goers glanced around, as if looking for someone or something as they walked up.

It was high alert Friday at the Lake City Playhouse in case protesters showed at the opening night of the musical, "Rent," as it was rumored they would.

Didn't happen.

Just as well, said Donna Simon of Post Falls, a season ticket holder, who arrived around 7 p.m. with friend Dorothy Baggarley for the 7:30 curtain time.

"We have no idea if we're going to like it or not, but we're going to give it a shot and find out," Simon said.

Neither woman had seen "Rent."

"We like variety, we like to find out what's going on," Baggarley said.

All 172 seats inside the Playhouse were sold for each of the weekend's performances of the musical that has generated controversy for its adult-themed content and characters that include gay men and women, drug addicts, and a drag queen.

Some said the play was not appropriate for a community like Coeur d'Alene, and they could not support a musical "that celebrates sin."

Playhouse personnel were initially told there would be protesters outside, but Friday, artistic director George Green said he heard the protesters decided to go pray for them at a church, instead.

Staff also said there were some concerns protesters may have purchased tickets and planned to disrupt the performance, but that didn't happen, either.

Linda Jordan of Spokane came to see "Rent," which included her daughter, Alyssa Jordan, in the cast.

She has seen "Rent" several times and isn't bothered by the material,

"To me, it's one of the few musicals that isn't the traditional boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets back together with girl."

Jordan considered it more of a documentary of what's happening in society, and said she planned to attend Friday despite talk of protesters.

"It annoyed me, that they were as closed minded as they were," she said.

Claudia Hume of Spokane received "Rent" tickets for her birthday and also wasn't worried about demonstrators.

"I had no second-thoughts about coming," she said. "I saw the movie and I have friends who went to see the play and it was great."

Her friend, Lori Aukstikalnis, said any controversy over "Rent" likely boosted sales.

"What a great way to sell the show," she said.

Green said there are just a few tickets remaining for next weekend's show.

Simon said even if she and Baggarley don't agree with the theme or content of a show, they still might enjoy it.

"I've seen others here, I didn't like the language," she said. "I think the acting is always phenomenal."

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