A group of young artists in Lower Manhattan’s East Village fight to survive the struggles of the ’80s — AIDS, greed and love — in Rent, a Broadway musical inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s 1896 opera La Bohème.
The show follows the lives of Benny (Matt Arscott), Maureen (Zoe Banuelos), Collins (Gene Chin), Mark (Josh Cole), Roger (Eve), Joanne (Sarah Landstrom), Angel (Cody Mendonca) and Mimi (Amy Robbins) as they find a space for themselves while following their callings to measure their lives in love. Beginning on Christmas Eve, the story depicts identities from multiracial backgrounds and within the LGBTQ+ community who have no money, no power and few solutions on how to live happily in their world.
Michael P. Watkins has directed a cast of 16 actors for the ACE production, which wraps up with its final performance Saturday, July 8. Watkins says the original production was designed for a much larger space, creating a challenge for a production at Actors Cabaret with its tiny stage.
“I always try to put my own spin on it. It’s written for a much larger space, so it was a challenge to put it in this space, but it makes it more intimate and people can become more involved emotionally,” Watkins says.
He says the show is being received well by audiences night after night, and this final performance is a chance for the community to enjoy the work that has been created.
“It was a fine group of people with good voices. It’s a hugely popular show and it touches people, especially if they love the show,” he says.
The last performances of Rent at Actors Cabaret, 996 Willamette Street, are Friday, July 7, and Saturday, July 8, with doors opening at 6 pm and curtain at 7:30 pm. Tickets and more info at ActorsCabaret.org.