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News : Entertainment Sep 4, 2014 - 6:01:23 AM

Tony Award-winning musical premieres in Kweskin Theatre

By Curtain Call

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Two of the leading ladies of RENT at Curtain Call's Kweskin Theatre: Rachel Schulte and Saige Bryan. The show will play September 12 through October 11. (contributed photo)
The musical that brought AIDS to the forefront of the American conscience and landed four Tony Awards (including Best Musical), plus won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, is making its debut on Curtain Call's Kweskin Theatre stage beginning September 12. The musical (which features adult themes and language) will play five weekends through October 11 kicking off Curtain Call's 24th season.

The original production of Rent closed after 12 years on September 7, 2008, making it the seventh-longest-running musical in Broadway history. It spurned a whole new category of theatergoers: Rentheads, and was responsible for turning a younger audience - the MTV Generation - on to the Broadway musical. It certainly met composer Jonathan Larson's desire to "create the Hair for the 90s."

The squatters in RENT get a temporary reprieve from their landlord and former roommate, Benny. Seen here are (L-R) Richard Cummings as Mark Cohen, Kevin Thompson as Benny and Ben McCormack as Roger Davis (contributed photo)
Based loosely on Puccini’s opera La Boheme - itself a gritty depiction of life in the 1800s - Rent is a gritty show of our day. It follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Alphabet City instead of in Paris. Instead of the tuberculosis, the characters live with HIV/AIDS. The complications of the disease — treated with AZT at the time but still a death sentence for many — pervade the lives of Roger, Mimi, Collins, and Angel. Benny, a former roommate of Roger and Mark, married well, gave up his bohemian dreams and bought the building they all live in.

"Rent is definitely a show outside the norm for us," said Curtain Call executive director, Lou Ursone, producer for this production. "We always try to mix it up each season with our programming, providing one or two options that are less main stream and Rent is one of those shows," he added. Certainly the language and themes are not for the faint-hearted. If you don't like hearing the "F" word, or seeing very suggestive sexual activity on stage, Rent is probably not for you.

RENT, loosely based on LaBoheme, shares the name of its leading lady, Mimi, with the Puccini source material. Seen here as Mimi is Sofia Weinberg of WESTPORT and Ben McCormack of TRUMBULL as Roger Davis (contributed photo)
"Deb Failla has directed some of our most successful productions in my 14 years here, so I am thrilled to have her leading the way on Rent," Ursone said. Peter Randazzo, music director, is another long-time collaborator of Ursone's "and is perfect for the job of bringing this amazing score to life," Ursone added. The set design is by Curtain Call associate artistic director, Peter Barbieri, Jr.; lighting design by Ellie Mallardi, and costumes by Megan Latte Ormond who is also in the cast. Others in the cast include, from STAMFORD: Sara DeFelice, Eric Hu, Ormond, Zully Ramos, Ethan Gabriele Riordan, Rachel Schulte, Will Strong; Jonathan Wu; from NORWALK: Saige Bryan, Richard Cummings, Emily Frangipane, Bobby Pavia, Kevin Thompson; from STRATFORD: Katie Imholt, Kevin Kiley, Dashon Pratt, Katelyn Wilson; from WESTPORT: Sofia Weinberg; from TRUMBULL: Ben McCormack; from BROOKFIELD: Kevin Cooper; from BRIDGEPORT: Demerre Files; from SHELTON: Emily Lessard; from YONKERS, NY: Nic Anthony Calabro; from CROTON ON THE HUDSON, NY: Libby Whitely.

Curtain Call has been consistently recognized for outstanding programming for many years: in August 2012 they were noted as the Most Popular Theatre site in Connecticut in a state-wide Facebook poll run by the CT Department of Tourism; in 2011 they received The Governor's Award for Excellence in Culture & Tourism; and every year since 2005 they have been named Fairfield County's Best Local Theatre (and Best Venue, Best Local Arts Organization) in a variety of other polls.

Rent will generally play Friday through Sunday each weekend, with three Thursday nights as well September 25, October 2 and 9. Discounted five, seven and ten-ticket FLEX PASSES offer savings of more than 40% off regular ticket prices. Single tickets for most events are $32 for adults, $24 for senior citizens and $16.00 for students and children. Thrifty Thursday performances are only $22. Box Office: 203-461-6358 or online at The rest of Curtain Call's 24th season of plays and musicals includes Deathtrap, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club, Meet Me In St. Louis, A Merry Mulberry Street Musical, Beau Jest, Man of La Mancha, All My Sons, Jesus Christ Superstar, Follies plus interactive murder mysteries, comedy nights, concerts and more.

Curtain Call is the non-profit community-based theatre company in residence at The Sterling Farms Theatre Complex, 1349 Newfield Avenue in Stamford. Year-round productions are presented by and for area residents in The Kweskin Theatre and The Dressing Room Theatre. After school, evening and weekend educational workshops in the performing arts are also offered year-round for ages five through adult.

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