It won a Best Musical Tony and a Pulitzer Prize; ran for a dozen years on Broadway; has single-handedly been credited with reinventing the modern American musical — and has spawned a legion of followers who’ve been branded everything from “the most passionate” to “the most annoying” of fanbases.
It’s Rent, Jonathan Larson’s magnum opus (set in the once-forgotten but fast-transitioning landscape of Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the AIDS-ravaged end of the 20th century) that borrowed the framework of Puccini’s La Boheme — and that became a genuinely game-changing Broadway sleeper, fueled by real grass-roots buzz, burgeoning social media, and the mind-bogglingly sudden death of its creator on the eve of the show’s first preview.
Beginning this Friday and arriving just a few weeks after an acclaimed staging in Ocean Township, Rent is going up again, this time at the Performing Art Center at Brookdale Community College, as a spring student musical production that comes with a set of serious bonus features.
Accompanied in the PAC by a live rock band, the show is directed by BCC faculty member Christopher Tomaino, who observes that “as a cultural phenomenon, Rent has come to mean many things to many people… but ultimately it is about love: the love we have for each other and the families we create.”
A cast of Brookdale performing arts students brings to life the circle of friends struggling to make a life in a harsh environment — a set of roles that made stars of Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs, Jesse L. Martin and Anthony Rapp — while on select dates, representatives from Asbury Park’s Project REAL and Prevention Resource Network will be on hand to discuss HIV/AIDS statistics in Monmouth County and answer questions from the audience.
Cast and crew members will also host a “talkback” before both Saturday shows, and a Q&A session following both Sunday shows.
Performances of Rent are Fridays and Saturdays (April 10, 11, 17 and 18) at 8 pm, and Sundays (April 12 and 19) at 2 pm. Tickets are $12 for the general public, and $10 for seniors, Brookdale employees and alumni (with current BCC students admitted for $5), and can be reserved by going here or calling the box office at (732) 224-2411.