RENT the award-winning musical written by Jonathan Larson, is directed at Clark College by H. Gene Biby with musical direction by Jonathan Quesenberry and choreography by Lisamarie Harrison.
|The Company. All photos provided. For more photos click here.|
This story is one of dreamers, too. Mark (Sam Levi) aspires to be a film-maker. His roommate, Roger (Garrett Dabbs) longs to be a famous musician. Into their lives comes Tom (James Martine) a friend, and his new-found love, Angel (Bruce Kyte), a person with aids. To muddy the waters even more, there is also Benny (Andy Roberts), a former roommate, but now a slumlord, out to evict them. And Mimi (Lydia Fleming) with a drug problem, takes a shine to Roger and they embark on a shaky relationship. And let’s not forget the political activist, Maureen (Jazmyne Waters), Mark’s former love, who left him for another woman, Joanne (Dorinda Toner).
It all sounds like a merry mix-up from a Shakespeare comedy but is, instead, based on the [Italian] opera, La Boheme. This musical is tough for any troupe, as it is not only peppered with songs, but also most the dialogue is sung. But Mr. Biby and his cast, mostly young students at the college, are up for the challenge and, for the most part, exceed expectations.
|For additional photos click here.|
Levi, as Mark, the POV for the audience, is very animated and believable. He is impressive throughout in his singing and acting, but especially in the number, Tango Maureen, which is a show-stopper. Also, powerfully impressive, is Fleming as Mimi, who has a voice that rocks the theater. She is vibrant, sexy, a dancing dynamo and a terrific actress to boot. A triple threat, as they say in the biz, with a Broadway future if she allows her talents to continue to soar.
|For more photos click here.|
|For more photos click here.|
The stark set and inventive lighting, by Mark Owsley, works very well in its favor to show the different settings [in which] the story takes place. A “black box” is perfect for this kind of play. Pat Rohrbach’s costumes are as eccentric as some of the characters and they work beautifully for this production. And Biby must be commended for staging such a difficult show in such a small space with a young cast and doing it quite splendidly.
The band, at times, overpowers the actors, but there is no easy solution to moderating this perfectly.
WARNING: It should be noted, too, that this may not be everybody’s cup of tea. It is raw, deals frankly with sexual situations, and has R-rated language, as well. But, personally, I am glad to see Clark deal with edgier material, for the sake of young artists learning the craft, as well as education for the public. Bravo!
Photos provided. Link to photos on Flicker.
The play is showing in the Clark College Decker Theater, located at 1933 Fort Vancouver Way in Vancouver, Wash. The play runs through March 9th with showings February 23, March 1 & 2*, and 7-9. Evening shows at 7:30 p.m. *Saturday matinee on March 2 at 2:00 p.m. General tickets are $15, students are $10 and seniors are $12. For further information, contact them at www.clark.edu
If you choose to see this production, please tell them Dennis sent you.
By Dennis Sparks, Guest Reviewer