Remarkable performances in “Rent” — Ann Arbor Civic Theatre

Jonathan Larson’s RENT was presented this past weekend by Ann Arbor Civic Theater at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre. Whatever your thoughts are on the show itself (people either love it or hate it), the production featured a remarkable cast of performers, well directed by Glenn Bugala and choreographed by Kat Walsh with excellent musical direction by Tyler Driskill.

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Dominic Seipenko performed a spot-on Mark Cohen, never failing to miss both acting and singing notes – he was the heart of this production and well done.

Also extraordinarily good was Lauren Norris as Maureen, matched nicely by Kate Papachristou as Joanne. Norris soared in her numbers, and performed one of the funniest “Leap of Faith”s I think I have ever seen (and I have seen this show way too many times).

Chris Joseph turned in a great performance of Angel, filled with heart and soul. He had the audience eating out of his hand. Similarly excellent were Nickolas Brown as Collins, Paul Clark as Benny, and the entire ensemble who play the other interchangeable roles.

Several performances were not as strong, and vocals suffered — although at times it was hard to tell if that was due to the performers or the muffled sound — the larger the numbers, the worse the sound got. La Vie Boheme worked in solo snippets but was incomprehensible (unless you already knew all the lyrics) once multiple parts were miked.

Bugala’s directorial choices were clever and worked well in this production — in particular a sequence set in the subway during “Santa Fe” (why do both Newsies and Bohemians think that the cesspit that is Sante Fe is a desirable place to go?)

Congratulations to everyone involved with Rent at Ann Arbor Civic Theater. Great to see edgier material alive and well in our local theaters.

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