Sold on 'Rent' - Coeur d'Alene Press: Entertainment

Sold on 'Rent'

Tickets gone for musical's opening weekend at Playhouse

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Posted: Friday, January 13, 2012 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - If you were planning to see "Rent" this weekend- but don't already have a ticket - forget it.

All three shows of this weekend's performances at the Lake City Playhouse are sold out.

George Green, Playhouse artistic director, said "according to box office records, nothing has sold out at this level, this quickly."

But don't despair.

There are tickets for the final two weekends, and a show or two may be added.

"I just want to personally thank the community for not just its support of 'Rent' but its past and continued support of this theater," Green said. "The theater has never been healthier in our community."

Director Troy Nickerson says the audience will be sold on this performance of "Rent," as well. He called it an emotional show that's "powerful and heavy hitting."

It's a talented cast of 18 with some of the best voices in the area for the popular musical.

"It's a beautiful show," he said during rehearsal break Monday night. "It's going to be awesome."

The rock opera is based on Puccini's "La Boheme" that tells the story of "A group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggle to survive and create in New York's Lower East Side during the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS."

Characters include an HIV-positive musician and former junkie, a Harvard-educated lawyer and her lesbian lover, an HIV-positive drug addicted S&M dancer, an HIV-positive drag queen street musician/lover and a former member of the group who married for money.

"Rent" has achieved critical and financial success and was made into a movie. It won a Tony Award for Best Musical. It had a 12-year run on Broadway.

But some don't approve of its content that includes homosexuality, and believe it's inappropriate for the community. Some have also called for people to not support the show, and may protest outside the theater on opening night.

Green said the Playhouse is aware there could be protests, and police will be patrolling the site on Garden Street. He also said a donor has secured an armed security company.

Nickerson said people have a right to protest what they don't like. He just asks they be fair and respectful.

"I wish they would come in and see the show and give it a chance," Nickerson said. "I don't think you're going to change minds like that."

Two actors in "Rent" are looking forward to opening night.

Todd Kehne of Spokane plays the role of Mark, the narrator of the story. His character is compassionate and wants others to be happy.

The show is about "being honest" and "being human," he said.

"It's an honor and privilege to be able to do this show," Kehne said. "I'm just glad that we're doing it here."

Robby French of Coeur d'Alene plays Roger, who has HIV, and whose girlfriend kills herself.

He has seen "Rent" about 10 times and auditioned for it nine.

"I finally get to do it in my old hometown," he said, smiling.

His character is on a journey to write one, meaningful last song before he dies, French said. In his role, he wants to let audiences know "what it's like to have that disease and living your last days."

Both men said "Rent" has strong, universal themes that include the importance of living life for each moment. It's about relationships, about bonds, about love.

"Most of the people in the show are living essentially under a death sentence. You have this disease, you will die," Kehne said. "We just don't know when. You don't know how long you have, so make every moment of your life worth it."

French said it's not like the movie version. He said the Playhouse is the first regional theater in the Inland Northwest to produce it, and it would be a mistake not to buy a ticket.

Likewise, Kehne believes those who see it will walk away feeling moved. And for those on the fence, he says come out.

"It's not degenerate. It's a great story, the music is awesome. It's great entertainment and carries a good message with it."

Nickerson said "Rent" is a show "you can't fake." It forces the cast to be honest.

"If you try to push it, it makes it not real and it loses it's whole impact," he said.

As director, he said he was sure to treat the story with respect.

"We want to make sure we do the show justice because it's not done locally, in community or regionally theater very often," Nickerson said. "People have high expectations and we want to be sure to reach them."

If you go

"Rent" runs Jan. 13-29 at the Lake City Playhouse, 1320 E. Garden Ave. Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson; Directed by Troy Nickerson; Music Direction by Zack Baker; Choreographed by Jillian Wylie and Troy Nickerson. Show times are 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $19 for adults, $17 for veterans/students, $15 for seniors, $9 children. For tickets, call 667-1323.

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  • max power posted at 9:58 am on Fri, Jan 13, 2012.

    max power Posts: 559

    Rent: A rock musical with music and lyrics that tells the story of a group of impoverished artists and musicians struggling to survive and create something/anything in New York under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

    Kinda sounds like an Occupy Wall Street Occuturd cast with music and a heapin helpin of sexual perversion tossed in...

    "I'll wait for the sequel that attempts to glorify bestiality and pedophilia" -- Jack Hammer

  • DeNiles posted at 8:47 am on Fri, Jan 13, 2012.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    humanist.... cuz of the rancor it will be a media circus, so dress nicely.

  • Randy Myers posted at 8:41 am on Fri, Jan 13, 2012.

    Randy Myers Posts: 1635

    I think you pegged it Humanist......Niles isn't about to admit he's wrong. Deniles= In denial.

    The guy has never seen the play but *knows* what it is about.

    P.S. The camera thing is known as paranoia. We are watching you DeNiles.

  • Humanist posted at 8:23 am on Fri, Jan 13, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 3059

    @DeNiles: What's up with the cameras?

  • DeNiles posted at 7:52 am on Fri, Jan 13, 2012.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    Humanist.... Be sure to browse the parking lot and see where the attendees come from. And be sure to smile for the cameras.

  • Veeeee posted at 7:34 am on Fri, Jan 13, 2012.

    Veeeee Posts: 396

    I love it when a plan comes through! Congrats to the entire team!!!

  • straight up posted at 7:29 am on Fri, Jan 13, 2012.

    straight up Posts: 938

    ""It's not degenerate. It's a great story, the music is awesome. It's great entertainment and carries a good message with it."

    Yippee! Skippee!

    A good message - do what you want, whenever you want, no matter the personal or public health risk or whether it violates the law.

    A truly good message.

    Seems like that was the message of the Roman Empire - before it disintegrated.

  • Humanist posted at 7:19 am on Fri, Jan 13, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 3059

    @DeNiles: I gotta give you credit for continuing to try....... Despite the fact that RENT has proven to be accepted within OUR community (yesterday's survey), favorable press (yeserday's Inlander) and unprecedented ticket sales and demand (today's CdA Press article) you're still at it.

    Looks like everything you were saying over the last month about the community not wanting this production was just plain wrong. Are you ever going to admit it?

  • DeNiles posted at 6:00 am on Fri, Jan 13, 2012.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    HIV/AIDS is no shadow disease. It is a very deadly and highly contagious disease spread by known behaviors, the very behaviors to be featured in this play. And when you die from AIDS you are not a plump healthy actor/actress in some dramatic death scene, you are a pale skeletal chunk of whimpering misery.

    The play Rent was written about a time when not so much was understood about HIV infections and this is why it depicts the same reckless behaviors that infected its colorful characters. They were dumb to the disease and they continued to embrace and live lifestyles that were loose and carefree. So Rent is a lovely musical about debauched people whose lax exuberant lifestyles backstabbed them with a lethal disease. Just keep the facts in mind when witness the unapologetic on stage sexual innuendo and applaud the suggestive lyrics, etc. Rent is a play about not how to live your life but how fools live their lives, and pay the highest price for their poor choices.

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