This past Friday night, my friend Sabrina and I went to see Independent Musical Production’s (IMP) production of RENT at Merrimack Hall. IMP is a local production company that obviously specializes in musicals. They formally performed shows at Grissom High School and other locations and this was the first time they had performed at Merrimack. My parents had the tickets and had already seen the show and so they gave the tickets to me (thanks Steve and Deb!).
The show started at 7:30 and was over around 10:00 or so. Amazingly, I didn’t doze off during the show which seems to be my norm these days. I have been overwhelmingly tired lately – even before the time change.
I was familiar with the music from RENT since I have a copy of the soundtrack but had never seen the live production. I knew the premise of the story and told Sabrina beforehand that the story would be dealing with homosexuality and AIDS. Whether you approve of the lifestyle of these friends or not, the underlying theme of the story is the same no matter what your walk of life – that you can find a family amongst your friends, and that love is an important aspect of life.
I felt that this particular performance of RENT was just mediocre to be honest. It was opening night (I really have to stop going to opening night performances!) and the microphone of one of the main characters (Mark) wasn’t turned on for about the first 15 minutes or so and you could barely hear what he was singing (and we were on the front row!). There were a couple of guys with really great voices (Roger and Collins) and the girl who played Mimi just wasn’t that great in my opinion. Of course, I suppose I was comparing it to the soundtrack which I suppose is a little unfair considering the voices on the soundtrack are trained professionals. There was also one girl who had terrible facial expressions and was clearly struggling with her acting and it also looked as though she were lip syncing. Come to find out her parents are the benefactors of IMP which explains a lot. Despite some of the less that stellar singing, I was still moved by the story and even cried a bit at the end when everyone thinks Mimi is going to die.
For a local production, I suppose this version of RENT was okay. I have a feeling there are other local groups (Huntsville High) who could have done a lot better job, but what do I know? I’m just a spectator.