New World Stages is like a multiplex of Off-Broadway theater (there are six theaters in the building), and seems to be the place where Broadway shows go to downsize (Avenue Q, Million Dollar Quartet). The stage and the house are much smaller than the Nederlander Theatre where RENT played for 12 years (making it the ninth longest running show on Broadway). With the exception of one local production, I've only see the Broadway/touring version of the show. And even though every time you see it's different (cast), it's also somewhat the same (costumes, sets, direction). So it was a thrill for me to see a fresh new production with all new sets, costumes, choreography, and direction, not to mention a talented, young, (mostly) unknown cast.
For those of you who've never seen RENT before, basically it's about a group of young starving artists in New York City's East Village in the late 20th century, struggling with poverty, AIDS, love, creation, and trying to find their place in the world. It was written by the late Jonathan Larson (he died the night before the Off-Broadway premiere of the show in 1996), and is based on the opera La Boheme.
|with Adam Chanler-Berat (Mark)|
The Off-Broadway stage is smaller with not as much room to run around as the Broadway stage, but they make good use of the vertical space. It reminds me of a smaller version of Next to Normal (not surprising since Michael Greif directed that as well, and they share the same set designer, Mark Wendland), with its multiple levels and stairways. The sparse furniture of the original show, consisting of long tables and folding chairs, has been replaced with actual desks and chairs and moving set pieces. The iconic costumes have been changed, but still retain the spirit of each character. Upon seeing each them I'd think - that looks like something Mark would wear, even though I haven't seen him wear it before.
|with Matt Shingledecker (Roger)|
No day but today!