9.23.2010

Rent / Zach Scott Theater : 5 of 5

My parents and I have seen several Zach Scott Theater productions during their annual visits, so I was thrilled we were able to see the Broadway hit Rent there during opening weekend! I saw a touring company production many years ago, but my parents had never seen the show (although they were familiar with the songs and subject matter), so this was a first experience for them which they absolutely loved. The best aspect of this production is the immersive and intimate environment of Zach's Kleberg Stage, which has been transformed into a New York City setting (right down to the street noises before the show begins). The set includes multiple levels that even extend to the sides above the audience, which are often populated by performers (who also move through the aisles), literally surrounding the viewer in the action and sound. Most of the main set is filled by a large video display (kind of a pyramid of old TV tubes) with images that change to reflect the mood or even individual lyrics of a song, which is really cool and timed perfectly. The performers were all amazing, expressing their characters with powerful voices (which are even more incredible standing only a few feet in front of you!) and wonderful energy. The live band (which unfortunately is completely hidden, but there's nowhere else to put them!) did a flawless job, although the intensity of the music sometimes made it easy to miss a few lyrics (which are important since so many backstory details are included in the songs). My favorite number was the Tango Maureen, which was hilarious and danced so well, and my parents really enjoyed La Vie Boheme, mainly because the cafe scene was so full of life that Mom & Dad felt like they were right there at the table with the characters. Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed with the entire production, and honestly it was so much better than the touring version I had seen before! Although Rent has almost become a pop culture cliche by now, this show still packs an emotionally uplifting punch with a wonderful message about life and love, and Zach Scott delivered that punch with full force!

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