Director Paul Kerryson has brought back many of his previous company for the show, including the excellent Damien Flood and Debbie Kurup as reluctant lovers Roger and Mimi, and the incredible vocal talent of Mykal Rand as Tom Collins.
Last time it was former Coronation Street actor turned pop star, Adam Rickett, who provided the celebrity billing, playing Roger's flatmate and wannabe film-maker Mark. Now, he's been replaced by superb young newcomer Dougal Irvine while supermodel Caprice heads the bill as bisexual performance artist Maureen.
Those who know the show will be aware that the success of the story hardly stands or falls on Maureen's character, but it would be churlish not to rate the model's performance. As an actress she's adequate, and for one brief moment, I thought her singing was almost passable.
But Maureen is in the unfortunate position of singing her main number alongside her girlfriend Joanne, in "Take Me or Leave Me", and when the tremendous Wendy Mae Brown opens her mouth to belt out her bit as Joanne, one realises just how inadequate Caprice really is. In terms of vocal power, this is diva versus dishcloth and you can't help but wonder, not for the first time, why producers continue to book celebrity tat over sheer talent.
Nevertheless, the rest of the company is outstanding, whether in the beautiful ensemble showstopper "Seasons of Love", which never fails to bring the house down, Flood's emotive "One Song Glory", Rand's exquisite reprise of "I'll Cover You", Kurup's heartbreaking "Goodbye Love" or the powerful anthem "La Vie Boheme".
Rent is a terrific show which fully deserves its cult status, and Larson's book and score, while by no means flawless, are entertaining and provocative.
Kerryson avoids the pitfalls of over-angsting the story or veering towards sentimentality, and manages to shift seamlessly between the comic and the tragic. Karl Pendlebury's six-piece band is suitably powerful and Kentaur 's semi-industrial set is beautifully lit by Chris Ellis.
If you missed out in the past, don't miss out on Rent this time - supposedly it's last in the West End. Tremendous.
- Elizabeth Ferrie