Rent, St James Theatre | Review

Measure your life in love and measure this musical in love. A brilliant revival of a much loved show which will remind you to live and love.


Rent
St James Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 13th December 2016 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★★


Rent is one of those iconic musicals which shaped a generation; its melodies and storyline are so touching that the show became a cultural phenomenon when it premiered 20 years ago off-Broadway. It tells the story of a group of people living in a New York, East Village squat who are all affected by HIV, drugs and homelessness. The show's prevailing theme is that of living in the moment: there's truly "No Day But Today."

Bruce Guthrie's production is gritty and industrial, with metal scaffolding, Christmas lights and boxes covered in graffiti creating the dim abrasive world in which the story is set. Lee Proud's choreography is fabulous, especially in La Vie Boheme and Contact. The quick, sharp movements add to the frenzied feeling of the show and add a slightly more modern feel to the show compared to other productions I've seen.



The whole company is impeccable. I cannot fault anyone; every lead and every ensemble member is completely committed to their character and the stunning voices allow Jonathan Larson's melodies to soar and dip, whilst causing the joy and pain of all those watching. Billy Cullum and Ross Hunter shine as the impoverished roommates bouncing off each other wonderfully and their performances give the base and heart to this amazing musical. Philippa Stefani as the club dancing Mimi is rough but vulnerable; I was in complete tears by the end of her performance and was just in awe of how committed to her role she was and how it clearly affected her until the very end- a mesmerising performance to watch. Ryan O'Gorman as Tom Collins is perfect casting. Ryan's voice is off the charts goose-bump inducing and he is fully emotive on every single note. The acting performances all round are faultless especially with Lucie's Jones' over the top performance as the struggling artist Maureen Johnson. Shanay Holmes as Joanne has the most incredible chemistry with Lucie- 'Take Me Or Leave Me' is certainly a standout moment.  Angel played by Layton Williams is everything and more, I need sass lessons from this wonderfully talented man!  I could go on about every other character but lets just leave it at them all being completely and utterly exemplary. The whole company is a tight unit and its clear how special this piece is to all of them.


Rent has lived on for 20 years and as we can see from the 'house full' signs outside the St James that it is still a booming and resonant success. Jonathan Larson's musical is as poignant as engaging as it ever has been. Rent is heartbreaking beautiful and will inspire a whole new generation 20 years on from its original production.


The run at the St James Theatre has currently sold out but make sure to go and see the show whilst it continues to tour around the country.

Rent Official Website: www.rentonstage.co.uk