Rent in Concert (Birmingham)
A celebration of Rent, this tremendous Broadway musical is delivered on this tour with a lineup of West End names ready to honor this impressive show. The simplicity of the musical allows the concert to work in a way that not many musicals would; Rent is perfectly suited to ‘concert’ staging. This 20th anniversary production is actually celebrating the musicals 17th birthday with a full house at Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre.
The cast are headed by leading lady Kerry Ellis in a somewhat peculiar role choice for her, Mimi, a 19 year old Latino stripper. Whilst it’s easy to forget this is a concert performance, the role is definitely something Ellis makes her own. Her pure vocals are stand out among the cast, particularly during Without You and Light My Candle.
Rory Taylor, of Superstar fame, plays Roger. His vocals are strong; his performance is not so strong. Perhaps his lack of direction from Daniel Wood is to blame; often in a dark corner of the stage and not seeming to interact much with his fellow cast members. It just seemed as if he felt uncomfortable with his role or the staging.
Leon Lopez (Collins) and Ian Stroughair (Angel) make a terrific pairing, in particular during their duet I’ll Cover You. The heartwarming piece displays the emotional aspects of both the characters, portrayed perfectly by Lopez and Stroughair, a truely touching moment.
Another stellar pair would be Nikki Davis-Jones as Maureen and Jemma Alexander as Joanne, their duet Take Me or Leave Me stands out as one of the best choreographed and executed pieces of the performance. Davis-Jones’ solo number Over The Moon is a strange piece but her confidence in the role ensures the humor of the character is cleverly delivered whilst remaining true to the cause of her protest.
Of course the ensemble piece Seasons of Love is welcomed with applause and its many reprises are a joy to see and hear.
This concert production provides an excellent opportunity to see some of Jonathan Larson’s creatively diverse music and lyrics performed in a simple, stylish show by a cast of superb caliber. Grab a ticket whilst you can!
Rent 20th Anniversary Concert continues to Stoke, Glasgow, Leeds and Southend.