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RENT – St James Theatre

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

St James Theatre, London


Music, lyrics and book by Jonathan Larson
Directed by Bruce Guthrie

The cast of Rent
This 20th anniversary production of Rent is a heart wrenching piece of theatre that beautifully touches on the key themes of love, loss, addiction and the fear of living as HIV positive. It is engaging, touching and thought provoking.
Performed countless times across the globe, Rent can often descend into a self-indulgent performers’ showcase. Bruce Guthrie’s take on the show however is heavy on integrity, with the director exploring the psyche of each character, making the performances both believable and relatable. Alongside, Lee Proud’s mesmerizing choreography fits perfectly with both style and era.
Amidst a stark and rough scaffolding-based set and with the full orchestra on display, Anna Fleischle’s designs create an edgy feel that is aesthetically challenging, leaving one to focus on the drama.
Mark Cohen as played by Billy Cullen is beautifully watchable, embodying his character’s drive to succeed in his work but also constantly sending out the signals of his desperate need to be accepted by his friends. Ross Hunter’s silky, effortless vocals as Rodger Davies are a joy. His performance engages throughout, convincing in the chemistry that sparkles between him and Philippa Stefani’s Mimi. Stefani may have just transferred over from In the Heights but here she’s a completely different woman, displaying a stunning depth and emotional range. Her unravelling on stage is almost elegant, depicting her character’s agonising flaws as she struggles with her addiction and its dangers.
Lucie Jones’ Maureen is an unconventional gem. Her cooky, charismatic and confident charm is so suited to the character that she doesn’t struggle once to deliver on Maureen’s obvious sexuality and allure. As always, Take Me Or Leave Me brings the house down with stunning vocals from both Jones and Shanay Holmes as Joanne. Their delivery is entirely narrative driven rather than just being the shouting match that the number can so often suggest, as they make the song an intimate and passionate breakdown of a relationship between two fiery women.
Now virtually sold out in London, the production is soon to tour and for both Rent-heads and newbies it’s a treat. The entire company are outstanding – vocally, choreographically and emotionally.

Reviewed by Charlotte DarcyRuns until 28th January 2017 – Then on tour. Tour details herePhoto credit: Johan Persson

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NEWS: Hangmen, Bend It Like Beckham, The Father & other Critics’ Circle Award winners, tickets on sale

In Awards, London theatre, Musicals, Native, News, Plays, Press Releases by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

Kenneth Cranham awarded Best Actor for “the role of a lifetime” Denise Gough awarded Best Actress only three years after winning Most Promising Newcomer Bend It Like Beckham wins Best Musical Robert Icke awarded Best Director for Oresteia  The Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards 2015 were hosted today, Tuesday 26th January 2016, by the Critics’ Circle Drama Section Chairman (and My Theatre …

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Critics’ Circle Award winners include Judi Dench: Are they the only ones that make sense anymore?

In Features, London theatre, Musicals, News, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

Hangmen, Judi Dench, Bend It Like Beckham, Oresteia are among the winners… The annual best of lists are always a good indication of who’s likely to triumph at the Critics’ Circle Awards, which were presented this afternoon at the Delfont Room in the West End’s Prince of Wales Theatre. Understandably so as it’s critics who, by and large, draw up those lists and critics only – voting by secret, first-past-the-post ballot – who determine the Critics’ Circle Awards.