Kick off 525,600 minutes of the theater season with RENT

OpenStage enters its 41st season Saturday, Sept. 7 with a performance of Jonathan Larson’s Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, “RENT.”

Based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera “La bohème,” this musical tells the tale of young artists and musicians trying to make ends meet in New York City’s Lower East Side during the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 80s.

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Emelie Borello, the show’s director, has been working with the cast since early July. She has been working with OpenStage for seven years and directed The Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Lincoln Center for the past two years. While she has never directed a performance of “RENT” before, her enthusiasm and expertise show.

Even though people may have seen the movie or another performance, Borello urges the public to see this musical.

An emotional number from the musical RENT is expertly played by On Stage Theatre Company actors during a rehersal for the upcoming show.
An emotional number from the musical RENT is expertly played by On Stage Theatre Company actors during a rehersal for the upcoming show.

“For one, it’s a timeless piece,” Borello said. “But we’ve slowed it down to focus on the intimacy.”

“We give the audience the opportunity to feel the emotions so that they can connect with the cast rather than just watch it.”

Callie Mescher, who plays Mark Cohen’s ex-girlfriend and Joanne Jefferson’s current girlfriend Maureen Johnson, loves the musical for its diversity.

“It’s not your cheesy musical,” Mescher said. “It’s a rock musical. It deals with real life.”

Bennie Palko, a member of the ensemble, commutes daily from Denver to perform in this acclaimed musical.

“It’s a dream show for me,” Palko said. “You weren’t cool in my high school theater troupe if you didn’t know ‘RENT.’”

Palko seconds Borello’s statement on the originality of the performance.

“It’s an homage. We love the original to pieces, but we’re going to do it a little different,” Palko said. “It’s not the ‘RENT’ you’ve seen before.”

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“You should always see theater that affects you, and you can’t walk out of this show without it happening.”

RENT runs from September 7-October 5 at the Lincoln Center Magnolia Theatre. You can go to http://www.fcgov.com/lctix/ for more info or call the box office at 970-221-6730.

Entertainment writer Jeff Geiger can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com.