With the announcement of the return of RENT to the stage nationwide in celebration of it’s 20th anniversary, it is no surprise that local theatres are also taking up the chance to stage this iconic Rock Opera from Jonathan Larson.
RENT is a demanding production on every level and no easy feat for any cast to tackle, however the local Teddington Theatre Club, enjoying their run at Hampton Hill Theatre this week, definitely give it their all.
With the subject matter of RENT, it is important that the script is handled with integrity and understanding, demanding actors to really involve themselves in their characters and identify their role within this band of friends.
Some of the relationships on stage could do with a little more development to emphasize the relief that can be found in love when living with aids, or any other issue that each character struggles with personally. Yet, individually, the cast do commit to their roles and bring each their own strong interpretation of the characters.
Matthew Madeley as Mark is everything you’d expect as a Rent-head even down to the striped scarf and knitted jumper. His physicality is identifiable from previous actors in the role you may have seen on stage or screen, and his diction and performance in song gives the audience confidence in Madeley as a leading role.
His counterpart and flat mate, Roger, played by Conor Moss, lends a rock vibe to the vocals. Although Moss’ voice may not have the reverberation of a trained musical theatre actor, his tone is great throughout the show, his confidence doesn’t falter, and his harmonies (and they are definitely tricky in this show) are landed with great effort. Being careful not to let notes slide at the end of lines and having more confidence behind his voice would take his performance to the next level but together with Madeley, they tackle the two lead male roles with admirable determination and conviction.
Roger’s love interest Mimmi Marquez is played beautifully by the quaint and delicate Sophie Hardie. Her softer and more intricate vocals play in perfect harmony with some of the other leading roles and her rendition of Without You was a treat to the auditorium.
Another character you long to be introduced is Angel, and Arran Southern does not disappoint as the quirky bohemian drag queen. I think there was a little room to heighten Angels positive outlook on life and playfulness in the early scenes, to help with the heart wrenching loss later on, but overall Southern’s performance is funny, touching, and definitely a strong presentation of the character.
When Southern’s Angel meets the soft, soulful tones of Chris Waiting’s Collins, something beautiful is started. Both actors in these two roles have vocals to be admired – Southern’s extensive range and Waiting’s belt and depth in the lower register are astounding. The only note, don’t be afraid to be in love! These two characters have one of the strongest relationships in the show and are hit the hardest with the death of Angel. Southern and Waiting are capable of revelling in these characters and bringing more out in this relationship – they have the talent and the voice and should really go for it in the rest of their run! Also, Waiting’s rendition of I’ll Cover You (Reprise) was stunning.
Final mention for the lead roles has to go to the biggest Dr. Martens you have to fill when casting this show, Maureen and Joanne. This dynamic couple tackle one of the shows biggest ballads, ‘Take Me Or Leave Me’, and it is evident that Natalie Standing and Bex Wood enjoyed every moment of it. Bex Wood, as Joanne, displayed one of the strongest sense of character throughout her performance and coupled with her control over her voice and harmonies gives her real standing within this cast. Natalie Standing is perfect as Maureen. Her ‘Over The Moon’ presentation was funny and had a touch of originality in the delivery too, which is difficult to achieve with such a well known monologue. Again, vocally, she was brilliant and when teamed with Wood, they really belted out their duet.
If you are around South West London or are local to the Hampton Hill Theatre, please do get down to the show to support the Teddington Theatre Club this week whether you’re a RENT head or yet to be converted to one – this show will definitely leave you happy that you came out tonight!
Review by Adam Wollerton
Book, music & lyrics by Jonathan Larson
The heartwarming rock musical that changed Broadway forever
Sun 26 Jun 2016 to Sat 2 Jul 2016
Hampton Hill Theatre: Main Auditorium
Set in New York City’s gritty East Village, this multi-award winning rock musical tells the story of a group of bohemians struggling to live and pay their rent. Exuberant, passionate, uplifting and joyous, Rent is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today!
Warning: This show contains adult themes and is unsuitable for persons under 14 years
This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Ltd on behalf of Music Theatre International of New York
Roger Davis – Conor Moss
Mark Cohen – Mathew Madeley
Angel Schunard – Arran Southern
Tom Collins – Chris Waiting
Benjamin Coffin III – Ben Thomas
Maureen Johnson – Natalie Standing
Joanne Jefferson – Bex Wood
Mimi Marquez – Sophie Hardie
Mrs Cohen, Sue and others – Lizzie Lattimore
Alexi Darling, Kristen and others – Alana Wren
Mrs Marquez, Ali and others – Stephanie Von Wiera
Mrs Jefferson, Pam and others – Cath Bryant
Female Soloist, Backup and others – Rebecca Tarry
Gordon, Restaurant Man and others – Mark Wren
Mr Jefferson, The Man, Mr Grey and others – James Rooza
Stevie, Cop and others – Roberta Doherty
Crack Addict’s Baby – Seth Hardie
Production Team & Crew:
Director – Dane Hardie
Musical Director – Adam Hope
Production Manager – Janey Elgey
Choreography – Gita Singham-Willis
Stage Manager and Set Design – Jenna Powell
Assistant Stage Manager – Jack Tidball
Assistant Stage Manager – Jojo Leppink
Assistant Stage Manager – Joe Evans
Set Design – Lizzie Lattimore
Sound – Harry Jacobs
Sound – Charles J Halford
Lighting – Mike Elgey
Wardrobe – Mags Wrightson
Wardrobe – Nicole Hayter
Photography/Videography – Sarah Carter
Rehearsal Pianist – Benjamin McQuigg
Artistic Link – Lottie Walker
Hair – Emma Woodley