Javeen­bah’s edgy new show, Rent

Ac­claimed edgy award win­ner comes to town, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAYCONTENTS -

HEN di­rec­tor Iain Hogg saw the 2005 film adap­ta­tion of the Broad­way mu­si­cal Rent, he wanted noth­ing more than to put the edgy rock mu­si­cal on the Javeen­bah Theatre Com­pany stage.

Ex­plor­ing tough themes in­clud­ing sex­u­al­ity, gen­er­a­tion gaps, drug abuse and fund­ing artis­tic en­deav­ours, the mu­si­cal fol­lows im­pov­er­ished young artists and mu­si­cians as they strug­gle to sur­vive and cre­ate in New York un­der the shadow of AIDS.

The pro­duc­tion had som­bre be­gin­nings when the writer, Jonathan Lar­son, died un­ex­pect­edly the morn­ing of its first preview per­for­mance in Jan­uary 1996.

‘‘It’s a sad his­tory when you think the writer of this great mu­si­cal never got to see it per­formed on stage,’’ Hogg says.

‘‘I heard a quote once that ‘it was as if his heart had said ev­ery­thing it wanted to say and then gave out’, which re­ally spoke to me about what’s left and the mes­sage he left be­hind.

‘‘I think ev­ery cast has gone in with the at­ti­tude of ‘let’s do this for Jonathan’. That’s what I said to my cast and it has sparked their pas­sion and de­ter­mi­na­tion and given the show a unique, raw en­ergy.’’

Lar­son re­ceived three post­hu­mous Tony Awards and a post­hu­mous Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the mu­si­cal.

‘‘There are mes­sages about how friend­ship is eter­nal – even dur­ing tem­po­rary prob­lems,’’ Hogg says.

‘‘The mu­si­cal pow­er­fully de­picts how that plays out in re­la­tion­ships.’’

Some 90 per cent of the show plays out in song. A tal­ented cast drawn from around Aus­tralia has come to­gether on the Gold Coast specif­i­cally to ap­pear in the pro­duc­tion.

‘‘It’s mainly a singing show, so we needed re­ally strong voices and we at­tracted tal­ent from three dif­fer­ent states who come to­gether to cre­ate the per­fect mix,’’ Hogg says.

‘‘Each in­di­vid­ual comes from a com­pletely dif­fer­ent mu­si­cal back­ground.’’

Penned in 1996, the mu­si­cal’s themes are beau­ti­ful, time­less and just as rel­e­vant to­day, Hogg says.

‘‘The show’s tag-line is ‘no day but to­day’ which is kind of like a ’90s ver­sion of YOLO – you only live once. I’m not the big­gest fan of that phras­ing. It’s about liv­ing life and mak­ing the most of it,’’ he says.

‘‘The small amount of dia­logue in­ter­spersed through­out the pro­duc­tion is re­ally there to give the au­di­ence sign­posts to the story, but it’s mainly a cap­ti­vat­ing play set to mu­sic.

‘‘The set walls dis­ap­pear. It’s seam­less and very cin­e­matic and we’re per­form­ing it the same way that it’s writ­ten, but we’ve given it its own spirit, bring­ing in into the 21st cen­tury. It’s a time­less piece.

‘‘It’s so dif­fer­ent to ev­ery show I’ve ever done, be­ing a rock mu­si­cal and

Rent plays Javeen­bah Theatre, Nerang, Thurs­days to Satur­days at 8pm from to­mor­row un­til Au­gust 10. Tick­ets are $25. Visit javeen­bah.org.au or phone 5596 0300 to book. – Pic­ture: BREN­DAN RADKE there has been so much in­ter­est in it.

‘‘The cast has been re­hears­ing for months and are ex­tremely fo­cused on char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment and en­ergy.

‘‘This mu­si­cal will be mov­ing and fun for both the per­form­ers and the au­di­ence as we watch th­ese char­ac­ters learn to sur­vive, fall in love and find their voices.’’

Theatre list­ings, Page 30

Di­rec­tor Iain Hogg (cen­tre) with Rent stars Marc Lys­ter and Sean Thomas.

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