Saturday, 02 July 2022

Impressive take on classic musical

AFTER last year’s hit Netflix film Tick, Tick... Boom! brought back the story of American playwright Jonathan Larson, who wrote Rent in 1994, I wasn’t surprised that the Kenton was packed for this great adaptation by the Reading Operatic Society.

What attracted me to this production was that the musical is based on Puccini’s La Bohème but the splendour of his world is replaced with the coarseness and noise of modern-day New York City.

The story follows a year in the life of a group of bohemians struggling in New York’s East Village and tackles social themes including multiculturalism, substance use, disorder, gender identity and homophobia in a powerful and compelling way.

Henry Bearman’s interpretation of Mark, a nerdy lovestruck film-maker and the main narrator, stood out with his infectious energy and impeccable American accent.

Richard Bott’s Angel, an HIV-positive drag queen and street musician, was in equal parts bold, tragic and hilarious. But the true star of the show was Libby Thomassen, who played Mimi Marquez, an HIV-positive drug-addicted S&M dancer who falls in love with Roger, Mark’s room-mate.

Her voice was hypnotic and she played this complex and addictive character in a very gentle and elegant way.

One of the highlights of the show was the interpretation of its best-known song, Seasons of Love, a timeless classic to which pretty much everyone in the audience sang along and clapped.

Anna Colivicchi

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