CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Audiences flocked to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Warren Theatre for Jonathan Larson’s endearing and award-winning rock musical, “RENT,” performed by students from the Department of Theatre and Dance from April 19-24. The musical was an on-campus hit boasting several sold out performances. The University production of “RENT” was directed by J. Don Luna, and included choreography by Jilissa Cotten, Assistant Professor of Dance, and musical direction by Michael Perez.
“We had to turn away over a dozen patrons on those nights,” said Luna, Professor of Theatre and Chair of the Department of Theatre. “It was our most attended theatre production in my 22 years of working at the University.”
Inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s opera “La Boheme,” “RENT” tells the story of a group of friends living in East Village, New York City, who struggled with issues like finding their voices, poverty and HIV/AIDS. The musical was one of the first to bring bisexual and transgender characters to Broadway and still today speaks to everyone who loves musical theatre.
“The cast and most of the crew worked from three to five hours daily on the production,” said Luna. “We had almost 100 students total working to make ‘RENT’ a success.”
The cast included standout student actors Micah Knupp as Mark, B. Conner Flynn as Roger, Thomas Valdez as Angel, Frank Garcia Jr. as Tom Collins, Freddy Acevedo as Benny, Kristina Jaime as Mimi, Zoe Rodriguez as Maureen and Mariah Claiborne as Joanne.
“The show hits you in the heart a little bit, but you walk away with a smile,” said Valdez. “I think that’s what this show can do for people. It really helps you appreciate life and the people around you.”
Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, “RENT” has become a pop cultural phenomenon with songs that rock and a story that resonates with audiences of all ages.