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Sizzling, Sensational Musical RENT Opens July 5

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Aurora -  RENT, the sensational rock musical about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today opens at 8 pm July 5 for a seven-show run Fridays and Saturdays through July 20 and Monday July 15 at Aurora Community Theatre, 115 E. Pioneer Trail.

Winner of the Tony Award for “Best Musical” and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, RENT has become a pop culture phenomenon. Loosely based on Puccini’s opera La Bohème, Jonathan Larson’s RENT is set in modern times and follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

Denise Astorino directs this stirring musical that the New York Times calls an “exhilarating, landmark rock opera” with musical direction by Jon Krol and choreography by Mary Lee Baker. Marianne Paul and Lexie Haubrich serve as co-producers.

The plot revolves around the lives of eight key characters played by young local actors: Scott Zolkowski (Angel), Chris Hatala (Benny), Anthony Williams (Collins), Courtney Marshall (Joanne), John Doyle (Mark), Jordan Renee Malin (Maureen), Emily Schrader (Mimi) and Adam Kapis (Roger).

A strong ensemble of talented performers including Greta Rothman, Anthony Covatta, Alex Orvosh, Jennifer Cull, Shannon Sharkey, Rachel Roth and Nick Alder showcase the play’s diverse popular music featuring electric rock, salsa, Motown, bebop and reggae, with respectful nods to Stephen Sondheim and Burt Bacharach.

Cody Steele and Christi Labib head up behind-the-scenes duties as co-stage managers, Craig Kollai designed the lighting with Austin Hopson on the lighting board. Maggie Hamilton is in charge of sound. Marianne Gingras was in charge of costumes, and Paul Chechak constructed the sets.

RENT was first seen in a limited three-week workshop production at New York Theatre Workshop in 1994. This same off-Broadway theatre was also the musical’s initial home following its official January 25, 1996 opening. The show’s creator, Jonathan Larson, died suddenly the night before the off-Broadway premiere. RENT moved to Broadway’s larger Nederlander Theatre on April 29, 1996, where it gained critical acclaim closing on September 7, 2008 after a 12-year run of 5,123 performances, the ninth longest-running Broadway show at the time, and grossing over $280 million. The show’s success led to several national tours and numerous foreign productions. In 2005 it was adapted into a motion picture that features most of the original cast members.

The show’s theme of love striving to endure beyond all obstacles remains current for all generations.

“Indeed, this vigorous tale of a marginal band of artists in Manhattan’s East Village, a contemporary answer to La Bohème, rushes forward on an electric current of emotion that is anything but morbid.”

            New York Times

AUDIENCE ADVISORY: This play contains coarse language and adult subject matter.

RENT is presented with permission from Music Theatre International.

Tickets are $16 for adults and are available online, including seat selection, at auroracommmunitytheatre.com, or call the box office at 330-562-1818. Group discounts are available by calling the box office. Opening night tickets include a complimentary after-show gala and the opportunity to meet cast and crew.

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