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Rent
Review

Adapted from review by Roger McBain, Evansville Courier & Press
November 13, 2011

Passion, energy and talent pulse through the University of Southern Indiana Theatre's production of Jonathan Larson's "Rent." Director Eric Altheide's 14-member cast delivered some expressive, engaging and penetrating performances in Jonathan Larson's rock adaptation of Giacomo Puccini's opera "La Boheme."

The Pulitzer Prize-winning adaptation takes Puccini's opera about starving artists in late 19th century Paris and sets it the 1980s in New York's East Village, where struggling artists dodge landlords, homeless people camp out and everybody worries about HIV/AIDS.

It's essentially a rock opera, with more than 40 musical numbers. Some of the best-known include "Rent," "La Vie Boheme," "Another Day," "Out Tonight" and "Seasons of Love."

Several players gave notable performances.

Preston Harris-Dunlap embodied the humanity of Angel, the terminally ill transvestite street drummer whose spirit, generosity, and inextinguishable good will infect everyone he comes in contact with.

Adam Woodruff gave a whimsical, engagingly geeky spirit to the role of Mark, the documentary videographer whose movie frames this story.

Emily Durchholz and Shawnte Gaston brought a nice chemistry to their respective roles as the free-spirited performance artist Maureen and her new girlfriend, Joanne.

And Dustin Stephens and Bridgette Hoover offered emotionally intense performances as Roger and Mimi, a musician and dancer trying to forge a relationship in the shadows of AIDS and drug addiction.

Robert Broadfoot's skeletal steel scenic design brought the audience right inside the post-industrial, loft apartment building and vacant lot at the center of this story.

And Kyle Rupert and Craig Patterson's multi-media video effectively projected back story as well as documentary and some atmospheric elements of the story.

The sum total was an energetic, occasionally powerful performance.

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