June 4, 2023

Rent succeeds despite technical flaws

I was surprised when I heard that the NCC theater was performing “Rent”. John Larson’s venerable musical is not easy on actors with difficult songs, tightly choreographed dancing and a run time of nearly three hours.

Despite the difficulty, the NCC production of Rent is a solid outing, albeit with some technical flaws.

“Rent” which takes place over the course of a year, follows a group coping with AIDS while living in a dilapidated poor neighborhood of New York City. The play focuses on the relationships of the main characters Collins, Angle, Roger, Mimi, Maureen, Joanne and Mark while their new landlord Benny attempts to kick them out.

The casting in NCC’s production is mostly spot-on. Thomas Kennebeck takes the reins of struggling filmmaker Mark with energy and raw singing talent, which shines during “Tango Maureen” and the titular “Rent”.

David Kunz as Roger handles his emotional solos exceptionally well during “One Song Glory” and “Another Day”, Arlene Fox as Maureen drew well-earned laughs from the crowd during her energetic rendition of the long-winded “Over the Moon”.

It’s unfortunate that such talent was muddled by technical faults.

Unfortunate audio mixing led to muddled sound, dampening vocals and blurring each actor’s singing into a near incoherent slurry. During the performance I attended, “Your Eyes” suffered from video issues rendering an important moment moot with a blank blue projection and panicked engineers rushing visibly behind the stage.

NCC’s production of “Rent” was a moderate success. The actors and stage crew did a wonderful job bringing a challenging play to the college stage. It makes me eager to see how the company fairs over the rest of this theater season.

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