As is characteristic of an economic crisis, RENT was late. By 20 minutes to be exact. Atlantis Productions is no Repertory Philippines, yet. Anyway.
Much has been said or written about Jonathan Larson's award-winning musical RENT. RENT, which tackles issues such as homelessness, AIDS, and alternative lifestyles, has been playing on Broadway since 1996. Did I like it? Not really. I found it to be quite loud (I am getting older). It did have a good message as expressed in a catchy line: "No day but today." There were songs which highlighted the importance of love and commitment. The entire musical, however, did not develop these messages enough. I did not sympathize with or feel for any of the characters. I did not leave the theater talking about the characters as if they were as real as some people I knew (mercifully!).
There were a few catchy songs (i.e. Light My Candle, Tango:Maureen, I'll Cover You, Seasons of Love). One of the leads, Roger, was written in so flat a manner that to this day, I wonder why he is a major character. There are about two scenes which you would probably not want younger kids to see. On top of it all, the ending was so corny and melodramatic that you have to see it to believe it. Watch out for the ending and you'll know you're watching a musical and not living out reality.
Anything redeeming about the musical? Yes and she goes by the name of Ampy Sietereales who played Mimi. This is one performer to watch out for. Her voice can sound sweet for one song and be very powerful in the next. She can dance and move well (e.g. go up and down the scaffold, do the split) and sing at the same time. The entire cast also did quite well, particularly: JM Rodriguez and Ricci Chan.
Still, good performers, a few nice songs, do not a great musical make. The story and the characters were not developed well enough for the intended messages to be felt and communicated clearly. You don't have to take my word for it though. The musical will play at Music Museum, till November, I think. Some people I know actually liked RENT. As for me, I'm glad I just watched it here in Manila and not in New York where tickets can cost US$50.
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Rent: Jonathan Larson's Musical in Manila
Written October 26, 1999
Copyright © 1999-2001 by Angelica Bautista Viloria of http://www.viloria.com