Get ready for my final collection of Really Freaking Blurry PIctures Taken At Cabaret - Rent Edition. As one of the most popular musicals of our generation, Rent takes us through the lives of a group of some cool cats in New York's East Village in the days of Bohemian Alphabet City, where they're trying to get through life as young artists, and some with the struggle of HIV/AIDS . Whether you've somehow never seen a stage version or the movie version or if you regularly have sing alongs with your friends (it's not lame and you know it), I know for a fact that you've never seen Rent at Cabaret! I should tell you, I should tell you - do NOT miss out on your chance.
I am a huge fan of the show myself, so seeing it on a Rutgers stage with many of my talented friends was amazing. This post in particular is great because instead of trying to concentrate on understanding the storyline during their rehearsals, I got to sit back and really watch them perform - and then I got to talk to them about it offstage, too! Get ready for many feelings, something that is rare coming from me. Here we go -
One of the biggest take-aways from the show is its incredible message. Through songs like Seasons of Love, I'll Cover You, and both Finale numbers, Jonathon Larson makes audiences aware of how short life can truly be, and how we have to take advantage of its opportunities before its too late.
In talking to the cast members, I found it so awesome that they had such inspiring messages to send to their audience.
Fam 4 Lyfe
Something that's unique to the performing arts is the close bond that is developed among the cast members, the crew, and the staff. This specific group of people has never been assembled before that show, and after it ends, nor will it ever be again. Asking the performers "What do you think of your cast and crew?" is one of my favorite things because everyone, without fail, gets this really cute smile on their face while they think about all of their great memories together, and then they ramble on and on about how undoubtedly fantastic they are. Dominick Scalera (Food Science, Sophomore) is in the male ensemble, and said "This cast is incredibly talented and each of them have some type of note/riff that they kill me with at every practice. Kyle and his vision are absolutely amazing. Every time that something beautiful hits in the show, he makes a face that makes him look like a toddler that just wet his diaper and I think it's adorable."
[please take this moment to imagine what that face might look like]
[I am laughing]
The nature of the show lends itself to getting the cast to be super close and tight-knit group. We don't have a lot in common, but we just get along so well. It's such an awesome group, and when we come together it's a really great time. -Liam McGeary (Music Education, Sophomore)
Dreams Do Come True in Cabaret Theatre!
Rent is mad popular, and is probably the favorite musical of every 3rd person you meet (#science). This is both awesome and not that awesome at the same time, and Jonah Levinson (Chemistry, Junior) who plays Mark will tell you why: "I grew up listening to Rent. It's one of my all time favorite musicals. Getting to be in the show was a dream come true. The thing that's always difficult with being familiar with a show is having to separate yourself from previous portrayals of the character. No one wants to be or watch a carbon copy of an actor who has played the character before."
Like I said before, you're never going to be able to see Cabaret Theatre's production of Rent after they close next week, so why regret it later?
Speaking of dreams come true, sooooo many of the cast members have expressed how grateful they are to be playing their dream roles. Justin Luckenbaugh (Math and Economics major, Physics minor, Senior)says that Rent has been his dream show since middle school, and Collins has been on his list for "FOREVER". Jillian Hanna (Theatre and Psychology, Junior) has been waiting to play this role since she was a kid. "I was in complete shock when I saw the cast list. I was like 'Pinch me, there's no way this is real.' I never expected this opportunity to come so soon, and I'm just so grateful and ecstatic." Bernadette Burke (Music Education, Senior), or DJ Bernadizzle on the weekends (her words, not mine), commented on how "a dream come true" is a cliché that she just couldn't avoid when it came to this show. "I've been in love with Rent for the last 10 years and it's awesome being able to bring it to life in one of my favorite spaces."
Paolo Arceo (Psychology and Theatre, Sophomore) says that Rent is one of his favorite shows of all time! "I became familiar with it because my vocal coach was actually the Original Joanne in the 1996 Broadway production! Knowing the show and having her as my coach made me so excited and honored to be part of this production."
[please take this moment to reflect how how fREAKING COOL THAT IS, LIKE WUT]
I have been listening to the Rent soundtrack for the last 3 days, in between watching the dress rehearsals and writing this blog post, and I gotta say - it's very distracting. The amount of times I've accidentally typed out song lyrics is ridikulus, and I just stopped caring about people looking at me weird on the bus - because lets be real here, seeing the squirrel man on the bus is weirder than a sleep-deprived girl intensely mouthing song lyrics in the back.
My favorite song in the show is "Seasons of Love" because 1) I'm basic and 2) I sang it in the sixth grade for chorus, and it was the first musical theatre song I had ever been exposed to, so it holds a really special place in my boxy and frigid heart :')
Dom's favorite is "Out Tonight/Another Day". I could describe why, but I think y'all need the exact wording: "Even though I'm supposed to remain frozen in the loft, my body wants to do some dank dance moves, primarily with my booty [am I allowed to type this? let's find out!]. I wanna pop, and lock, and [jam and break!] dab like one of the cool kids. Also, the way Liv hollas at Liam 'There's only yes' just fills me like a cannoli, except with feels instead of cream." Oh, Dom. You kill me. Make sure you all stare him down during that number, because I sure will be.
Warning: Kyle Buchanon (Music Education, Senior) is amazing and has written really beautiful answers to my interview questions, and I don't wanna leave any of it out because I legit teared up while reading it so I'm just gonna copy and paste this ish. You're welcome.
Describe your love for this show.
I saw the touring production with Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal (original Mark and Roger) for my 15th birthday and immediately fell in love with the show. I saw it with my parents (some awkward moments lol) and my very dear friend, Da Ye. Shortly after, I found out Da Ye would be moving, making the show's "no day but today" mantra so much more relevant to my life. Those next 2 months I will always remember as the summer of Rent. I couldn't tell you how many times we watched the filmed live on Broadway DVD. Since then, my love of the show has grown. As I've gotten older and experienced my own loves and losses I'm able to appreciate the show even more. What I love most about the show is how honest and forward it is. Nothing is sugar coated, there really isn't a "happy" ending, though it is hopeful, and there's a certain rawness and edge to it that makes it resonate with everyone in some capacity.
Describe your love for this cast, crew, and pro-staff.
This pro-staff is very near and dear to my heart. I've worked with all of them on multiple occasions and in various capacities. Ajit and I have been a part of 8 shows together in less than 2 years, same with Tyler. I think between the 7 of us on the production staff, we've done something like 40 shows total. I'm able to communicate what I need from each pro-staff member and they do it and do it well. Everyone on this staff is great at what they do. Take Allie (or choreographer). I don't do choreo. At all. I can't dance. I'm an awkward mover just no... Yet somehow Allie understood literally everything I wanted. For example, for Santa Fe I told Allie I wanted something fluid, flowing and I did a little awkward Squidward-like interpretive dance with my arms. Somehow with those three bits of information Allie created exactly what I had in my head. And this happened for literally every choreo number. I'm convinced Allie can somehow see what's in my mind.
The cast situation is really cool because I've worked with most of them before. Some I've known of for a while. Others are newcomers. What I particularly love about this cast is their ability to collaborate with me and Gina for blocking, crafting, all that jazz. We would have a framework established for them, and then we would work together to make it their own. It's been really fun to work with all of them to make this show our own.
What's your favorite line in the show?
How am I supposed to pick a favorite line?! There's so many gems..... I really can't decide. If I had to choose I would probably say "I'm used to relying on intellect, but I try to open up to what I don't know". This line never really resonated with me much until this year. I've always been a pretty methodical person, but up until this year I've learned to kind of just live and let things happen. There's no sense being afraid of the unknown. I've embraced it and taken many leaps of faith this year and each time I feel like I've landed on my feet.
Or of course "measure in love". The love we give and the love we receive really should be how we evaluate our lives and time. Ajit actually did this "measure in love" project for me as a Christmas gift. In the box were 100 slips of paper, rolled and tied shut. I was to read one slip each day from New Year's Eve to opening of Rent. Each slip contained a memory of me from a different person each day. The whole thing really gave me time to reflect on all the people who have come into my life. So yeah.. The whole measure in love thing really hits me. (Your slip, Anna, was actually one of the most touching ones I received. You wrote about your MGSA audition and how I helped you feel relaxed and calm before the audition, something that just seemed like an ordinary thing meant a lot to you.)
[I'M NOT CRYING, YOU'RE CRYING. SERIOUSLY, WHERE ARE THE TISSUES?]
There are so many other great things that these beautiful people talked to me about, but I can hear the sound guys in the back playing the transition music in attempt to cue me off the stage. Bottom line is that Cabaret's last mainstage is the bomb-diggity, Kyle is an inspiration, and Rutgers has some of the most talented people in the universe (#morescience). Get your tickets.