Review(ish): student 'Rent'

July 30, 2009
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Commenting on a summer teen theater workshop production is akin to writing about high school plays. Friends and family constitute 95 percent of the audience, and extended applause between songs and standing ovations afterwards are a given.

So rather than offer critical commentary on the Park Tudor Summer Stock Stage production of “Rent,” I prefer to applaud the workshop’s organizers in their gutsy choices. In past years, productions included challenging work, including “Titanic” and “Urinetown,” along with more audience-happy fare such as “Beauty and the Beast.”

Beyond their appeal to its pre-sold audiences, such teen productions are also a good place for casting people to scout potentially hirable young talent. To those who missed “Rent,” I’d suggest keeping an eye on Cory McConville, who offered a soulful, well-sung Roger, and Anita Rogers, a stunner with a sweet voice, who owned the stage as Mimi (even if she didn’t seem terribly sick in the end).

Your thoughts?
  • Yay! I am delighted that you wrote about this show, Lou, even though I completely agree with you, usually, about NOT offering public, critical commentary on high school plays. I am even leaning that way towards community theatre plays put on by adults, but that's a topic for another conversation.

    Anyway, I'm glad you wrote about the PT Summer Stock Stage's production of Rent because more than one friend of mine worked on it and I was sad to have to miss it. Reading about it is the next best thing.

    What I would LOVE is if a bunch of theatre-fan teens in the Indianapolis area got together and started their own blog or forum or something on which they wrote about each other's high school shows in a thoughtful, specific, public (ie, courteous) way.

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit
  • I'm just curious about the content of the student version... it seems like a lot of the original version would have to be amended to make it appropriate for kids! What were the main changes? I wish I could have seen it!
  • Very minor changes--mostly adjusting the music itself.

    According to MTI, which licenses the show;

    This adaptation has been carefully done, working with the Larson estate to retain the dramatic intent of the groundbreaking rock musical, and consists of minimal changes to language and the removal of one song (CONTACT) to make it possible for many schools to perform this piece.
  • My wife saw this production, no family, or friends....just wanted to see how they adapted it from the original. She said the kids were amazing, very talented, and the show was great. She mentioned how this Summer Stock Program is always entertaining, and not the usual kids types of productions, so hats off to the production group....
  • My daughter was in the ensemble, so, I would be considered biased, but my kids have done a lot of theatre, and I'm actually pretty critical. She's performed with most of the theatres in town and her experiences have ranged from little better than middle school prodcutions to we should take this show on the road Overall, this was one of the best local productions I've seen in a very long time - by students or adults. I would have returned to see it a second time, even if I hadn't had a child in the show. The kids were amazingly talented, the casting was spot-on and the show was inspirational (a friend used the production to further engage in some difficult conversations with his 12-year old). Other than the sound issues found in the back of the theatre, my only complaints were with choices made - either by the director or by MTI. I felt that La Vie Boheme was thin. I would have liked to have heard more of those wonderful voices and seen more bodies on stage. Either by adding tables behind the main table or using kitchen/wait staff to fill out the number. I also felt that the alternate words chosen to clean up the language were unbelieveable and clumsy. Not sure if that was an MTI decision or a director's decision, but the actors often seemed to stumble a bit with the replacement choices.

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