Wilma’s Rating [rating=4]

Rent is based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème and tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

Dying in America at the end of the millennium, these are lost souls who can’t afford to pay their rent. This is not only a story of drugs, poverty and aids, it is a story of love and friendship and the struggle to find the meaning of life.

It’s like Fame meets Rock of Ages. But Fame after they all failed their exams and became squatters!

The Greenwich Theatre is actually lovely once you get into the auditorium. You have to pass through the drop in centre type bar, for which you could die queuing for a drink but once you get inside the staging is wonderful. Dirty new York.

The highlight of the show had to be the performance of Take Me Or Leave Me, a duet between Maureen and Joanne (Zoe and Jamie Birkett), the two strongest performers in the show.

Zoe Birkett (Maureen), shot to fame in 2002 as a finalist on the first series of Pop Idol, won by Will Young, went on to appear in the West End in Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical, Thriller Live, What A Feeling, Respect La Diva and Hair.

Another familiar face in the show is Steph Fearon (Mimi Marquez), who reached the semi-finals of the BBC1’s Over The Rainbow competition for the West End role of Dorothy in  The Wizard Of Oz.

The original production of Rent opened at Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre on April 29, 1996 following a history making, sold out, extended limited engagement at off-Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop. The musical went on to win every major best musical award, The show’s creator, Jonathan Larson, died suddenly the night before the off-Broadway premiere. The original production closed on September 7, 2008, after playing 5,124 performances and 16 previews. Rent is the ninth longest running show in Broadway history.

The show made its UK premiere on April 21, 1998 at the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre and closed October 30, 1999 after a year and a half.

Rent is playing at the Greenwich Theatre until 16th September 2012 and is definitely worth going to see. It wouldn’t surprise me if a West End transfer is on the cards too!

Directed by Paul Taylor-Mills
Associate Director Stephen Whitson
Choreographer Richard Jones
Musical Directors Huw Evans and Tom Turner
Designed by David Shields
Produced by Lillie Collier and Kylie Vilcins

Greenwich Theatre
Crooms Hill
SE10 8ES

Box Office: 020 8858 7755

Wednesday 5 – Sunday 16 September