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Rent | Stagetek
Written by lloyd bradford (brad) syke   
Sunday, 29 June 2008 00:12
Rent | StagetekIt's no small thing to stage a low-rent production of one of the world's most lauded musicals. So Stagetek and, in particular, Aldo Zumbo, get points for that leap of faith & act of heroism, right off the bat.

There've been many revivals of this quintessential millennium-closer, in Sydney, over recent years; most of which, I think, I've seen. This might just be the most even and measured of the lot. While it took until the second act for all-and-sundry (other than the band, which was self-assured from the start, thanks to Mark Chamberlain's tight-as musical direction) to hit their stride, director, Zana Cohen can be justly proud of her young, gifted cast, which bent but few notes out of shape in their moving delivery of this tragic piece. Proud of her own efforts, too: this was almost certainly the most evenly gifted amateur cast I've seen. And, though I would've gone for larger performances, at times (especially in the first half), the dramatic trajectory was exceptionally well-judged. Certain moments reflected a lightness of approach not often ventured, or encountered, in musical theatre, per se; discernment well-fitted to Rent, which, for all its worldliness and rightful cynicism is, in the end, a parable of the most uplifting innocence.

The vocals needed more carry, over the zealous musicians, as many lyrics were lost; a tragedy in itself. Other than that, Loud & Clear can be congratulated for living up to its name, in sound design.

Martin Bevz lighting design was, at least, adequate, while the chief protagonist in Michael Watkins quite standard set would have to be the lowering of the stained-glass church window.

Harvey House Productions brilliantly interpolated a filmic sequence, with just the right feel and impressive production values: bravo!

Vanessa Hodge orchestrated stage management more-or-less seamlessly; save for one or two unpreventable first-night slipups.

Matt Vella opened the bidding, as mainstay, Mark Cohen, exhibiting a fine voice, which struggled, but a little, only when some extra oomph was required for What You Own. Luke Cheung, as Roger Davis, for a guy as infuriatingly slim as the above, had plenty and reserve and coped admirably with all the demands of his role. Rosanna Zumbo, as Joanne Jefferson, showed herself to have an especially warm, soulful delivery. Carmen Smith, as Mimi Marquez, has taken time out from her recording career and supporting Diesel, to turn-in a compelling vocal and physical performance. Edward Mafi, as Benjamin Coffin III, also boasted attractive timbre; while Penny Horsfield, as Maureen Johnson, was bursting with vigour and vitality. Lloyd Harvey, as Tom Collins, reflected potential as a baritoned rock god; Brad Dylan, as Angel Dumon Shunard, no doubt transcended limits he thought he had, but clearly doesn't.

All-in-all, it got as close to a deathly-cold New York Christmas as a small Kensington theatre can.

Any excuse to see Rent is a good one. This is a better excuse than most.


Stagetek presents
Rent
Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson

Venue: Io Myers Studio, Kensington
Dates: June 27 - July 5, 2008
Bookings/Info: www.rentthemusical.com.au
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Comments (6)

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I mostly agree however I found the guy who played Mark to be really unlikeable but maybe thats what they were going for. Carmen Smith was amazing but I just didn't believe the relationship between Mimi and Roger. But overall a great show - I am going to try to get tickets to closing night.
RENTLUVR , June 30, 2008
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I was lucky enough to see both the regular cast and the understudy cast. Both were great, really, but unfortunatley i would be more inclined to say that the understudy cast was the brightest of the two stars. I think the girl who was penny's understudy was magnificant.. as was penny. But with the regular Roger and Mark, i just felt that the actors bit off more than they could chew. I agree with the comment above about Mark being unlikable.. i don't think it was intentional as the understudy for Mark was very likable. And the Roger understudy was a lot more beleivable than the regular roger. (WOW! This double identity talk is confusing) I also think that Angel, Mimi, Collins and Joanne(who didnt have understudies.. not sure why) seemed more compatible with the understudies. That aside, Carmen tore off the roof with her amazing voice.

The set was amazing.. really detailed and lots of suprises. Angel's funeral blew me away. Hats off to Zana for some really awesome direction.

At first glance, i thought Benny was badly matched to the rest of the cast, but as the show progressed, i changed my opinion. He was a great Benny. The ensemble also gave the leads a run for their money.. in the looks department and the talent department.

To sum it up, I would say that it has been the best non-proffesional (even though it WAS very proffesional) version of Rent that i have seen to date.
Traci Plisken , July 02, 2008
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Go Luke!!!
*throws underwear*
Gareth , July 02, 2008
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I found that although the production was very good and they had outstanding talent the connection to the songs and each other just wasnt there. Hats off to them it was a hard show to pull off and they did really well.
sara , July 04, 2008
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I saw the first production in Australian in 1999 with Christine Anu as Mimi, and as a big fan of the movie, I would have to say this cast and production did incredibly well.

Their youth and enthusiasm and voices were all amazing. Well done guys and I hope to see you again on stage.
Thomas , July 06, 2008
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The range of talent in such a young cast showed they can and will go far. The improvement over time in the shows presentation and renewed confidence of the cast provided an excellent last night show.
Jo , July 08, 2008

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