And this time, it’s with original Broadway cast member Gwen Stewart, the soloist who belts out that ridiculously high note at the end of said song. Oh, and Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp also reprise their OBC roles as Roger and Mark, respectively. While these two are heralded as the stars of the show - and yes, they do deliver with the electric performances that helped to turn RENT into the most exciting Broadway production 13 years ago - this incarnation of the show, as is always the case, finds its strength in the ensemble.
Sure, Pascal delivers his famous
shrieking powerhouse vocals and Rapp doesn’t disappoint with his signature weird hand gestures and dorky dancing, but the stage really lights up when the entire cast joins together in songs like Rent, Another Day, and La Vie Bohème. Rentheads, we’re sure, are beyond thrilled about the return of Pascal and Rapp, but despite their impressive mastery of the spirit and technical demands of the show, one cannot help but notice 38-year-old Pascal’s larger-sized baggy costumes and 37-year-old Rapp’s thinning hair.
Regardless of any minor criticisms of the aging stars, this production of RENT is successful in taking the audience on a speed chase of emotions, from extreme elation to sobbing-in-your-Kleenex clinical depression. Justin Johnston, who plays Angel, reels in the audience with his scene-stealing antics and the kind of selfless compassion that makes you want to run up on stage and give him a hug. But again, it’s those ensemble numbers that have you wanting to get up and dance the dorky dance with Mark or crawl under your seat and cry until the ushers find you and drag you out to the sidewalk.Seasons of Love