I’m seated in the front row at NWTAC’s theatre on Lightbowne Road, Moston to see an award winning rock opera called Rent, set in the late 80’s. I have no preconceptions. I know only one song from the show, “525,600 minutes”.
The audience filter in from the bar, get comfy and settle down.
There’s a hush as the lights go down…
The opening scene is set in a cold, bleak attic apartment and the opening number places it in New York – there’s no missing that accent. Mark and Roger can’t afford food nor pay the rent. The storyline follows the two young men and their friends; musicians, dancers, film makers, etc., for one full year.
Poverty, drug addiction, sexual orientation, new relationships, lost love and a deadly illness called AIDS all impact on their dreams and aspirations as the year unfolds. 525,600 minutes to be precise.
There’s no spoken dialogue…
It’s a musical! The story-telling ability of the cast is superb. Each song is not just recited it’s delivered with passion, you empathise automatically with each individual character. Whatever anguish or emotions they are experiencing leaves you as sad or happy or crushed or defiant or desperate as they are.
Owen Garcia, played the flamboyant and vivacious Angel Schunard beautifully. He owned the space when he took to the stage and won the heart of Tom Collins, played by Prab Singh. In fact, he won all our hearts.
The multi-talented Anthony Horricks played the mournful musician Roger Davis. He and James Llewellyn Burke, aka Mark Cohen, had a great rapport. They are both powerful singers who worked really well together, with a treat from Anthony’s guitar playing thrown in. Solomon Asante-Owusu conveyed a clean cut, controlled Benny Coffin III and looked every bit the part of a wealthy landlord.
There’s love in the air as well as despair…
Bring on the girls! Mimi is a dancer in a strip club, she’s seductive and sultry but yearns for real love. Maria Collins played her perfectly. Maureen, played by Halle Kerley, is also a performing artist; bi-sexual, risqué and self-assured. She’s rejected Mark to be with the affluent Joanne Jefferson, a lesbian activist, played by Annabelle Cook. Ladies, what would your mother’s say! You all looked and sounded AMAZING.
The vocals were fabulous. The faces on the main line-up says it all. They love what they do.
The supporting cast played anything up to three roles each. They lightened the mood, brought a brighter tone to the dark subjects being portrayed and were really refreshing.
Hats off to Beth Singh, Musical Director. She stepped lightly onto the stage at the end to take a bow on behalf of all the Production Team. It doesn’t happen without them and they thoroughly deserved the applause too.
Next up for NWTAC is A Night at the Cavern Club starring Beth Singh as Cilla Black and featuring hits by The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers and more. It runs on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th Feb. Tickets are on sale now but will sell fast so don’t hang about.
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