Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rent comes to Toronto with extra ammunition

Rent comes to Toronto with extra ammunition

I've officially taken far too long to write my review of the Broadway touring production of Rent. Lucky for me, Renee has been all too kind and offered the following account of our evening at Toronto's Canon Theatre on January 16.

Rent came to Toronto with extra ammunition in the form of Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp.

The thought of seeing these two actors perform their original roles was a huge motivation for going to the show. Adam Pascal gave a great performance that night and truly lived up to all expectations. He has an amazing voice and still performed the character of Roger with enthusiasm. He did lose a few points for using the first line of his Playbill bio to shamelessly plug his new CD. Apart from that his onstage performance was close to perfection.

The true disappointment of the night was Anthony Rapp who didn’t appear to want to be there. While he did deliver a strong performance singing “Rent” alongside Adam at the beginning of the play, from there it seemed like he lost interest and/or energy. After the show he refused to take pictures with fans but at least he signed autographs unlike Adam Pascal.

When the show first opened in the mid 1990s it shocked audiences as it explored issues that were sadly being overlooked. It changed the way people viewed musicals and seems to give a whole new meaning to audience participation.

Cheering (wooing) in between songs and dancing in your seat is acceptable to a point but cheering mid-song is just wrong. People forgot that they were at a play and not a concert.

For instance, the women/girls in front of us were the most annoying people I have encountered at a play. Not only did they dance in their seats, fist pump to songs but one of them gasped when (Spoiler Alert!) Angel dies. I understand being shocked when a character dies but she sang along to all the songs (another audience pet peeve) and obviously knew it was coming. My pet peeves aside, I will admit that I was moooooved when everyone MOOed with Maureen.

525,600 reasons we're glad we saw Rent. (Er, actually, we narrowed the list down to three):

1. The true star of the show was Merle Dandridge. I’m usually not a fan of Joanne Jefferson but I was blown away by Merle’s performance of the character. Her name gave Chris and I comedy gold for the evening and her performance made us fall in love with her. Should you feel the same way please join our Facebook group.

2. The cast bios! I love reading the cast bios to see what else they have done. For New York performances it’s fun to see how many people have been on Law & Order but now the new game will be to see who has been on The View and Good Morning America. In case you were wondering Justin Johnston was on BOTH shows!!

3. Randomly meeting the cast in an alleyway. Who knew going down an strange and dark alleyway to see what the crowd was doing could be such a good idea.

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