The Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “Rent” is coming to Maricopa in June.
IF YOU GO
Who: Maricopa Community Theatre
When: June 6-8, 7 p.m., June 9, 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Where: Leading Edge Academy, 18700 N. Porter Road
How much: $10/advance; $15/door
Maricopa Community Theatre will present the rock musical in five performances June 6-9 at Leading Edge Academy. Director Carrie Vargas said it took two months to get royalties for the show. MCT is an AriZoni Theatre.
Vargas calls “Rent” a musical about “expressions of love,” whether love for others or self-love. She also said it will be a “unique interpretation.”
“Rent” was first performed in 1996, set during the AIDS epidemic of the late ‘80s in New York’s East Village. Inspired by Puccini’s “La Bohème,” it features characters trying to get ahead while dealing with poverty, drugs, loss and illness.
Randy Rice, who plays Mark, the narrator and a pivotal character in the ensemble, noted “Rent” was a “shocking and provocative show when it premiered. I don’t think you should go to anything that’s just comfortable.”
Like MCT’s “Sweeney Todd” before it, “Rent” is not kid-friendly and has adult content and language that Vargas describes as PG-13 or stronger. She said Maricopa has grown enough and evolved enough to be prepared for “Rent.”
“I liked how divine this show is,” said Adrian DeGuzman, an ASU student who plays eccentric Angel, a cross-dressing performer dying from AIDS who “brings everyone together.”
Gay, lesbian or straight, many of the characters are artists in one medium or another. Several are HIV-positive but pushing forward, a fact that has continuing implications in the plot.
Jerry Allen, a familiar face for MCT, plays Roger, a songwriter whose girlfriend has died and left him in deep depression.
“I’m more like Roger than I think,” Allen said, adding that is what makes the character such a struggle for him. “The music is what pulled me in.”
The score earned one of the four Tony Awards given to the original Broadway version of the musical.
Brittany Randolph, also a returning MCT player, is Joanne, a lesbian and a confident lawyer with connections.
“I was extremely excited when I heard we were going to do ‘Rent,’” Randolph said. “I loved the story and the fact it is focused on love.”
For those who have only seen the film version, Randolph warns the stage version is different.
“It’s very human,” said Maricopa High School graduate Maria Santillian, who plays the complicated addict Mimi. “And it’s very real. It has a lot of awareness of things that are real.”