Review: Rent, Crucible Studio

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Jonathan Larson’s terrific rock musical celebrates the bohemian life of poor young artists in 1990s New York.

It’s a subversive tale with a powerful message of living in the present moment.

Poverty, drugs, cold and disease mean they have no other way to live. They face hardship with courage, humour and hope.

The eight main players are well cast. Abi Weigold makes a suitably sensual Mimi and has good chemistry with lover Roger, played by Ross Bannister. Danni Hibbert makes a sassy Maureen, strutting around in leather or singing bonkers performance art. Heather Taylor is her long suffering girlfriend Joanne.

Tom and Angel are the pick of the couples however. While Jamie Cooke’s flamboyant Angel is good, Nick Plummer-Walsh’s subtle measured performance as Tom stands out.

‘Sell out’ landlord Benny and narrator-cameraman Mark, played by John Crowther and Joseph Walker respectively, complete the octet.

The music is first rate. All songs are backed by a live five-piece band. The beautiful harmonies of Seasons of Love are complemented by great solos from Jill Beckett and Jamie Cooke. Bongo percussion from the cast works well for Santa Fe. La Vie Boheme is catchy, funny and explicit. Without You is sad and haunting.

Father and son team Ian and Adam Walker direct, Steve Myers is in charge of music and Aggie Gryszel is choreographer. The fabulous set was designed by Hansel D’Roza. The great costumes are courtesy of Janet D’Roza.