Williamstown Musical Theatre Company is proud to present RENT The Musical, running from the 10th to 25th November 2017 at the Williamstown Mechanics Institute Theatre. Before you see the Tony Award winning show, meet the characters of the New York based pop cultural phenomenon.
Based loosely on Puccini’s La Boheme, RENT follows a year in the life of a group of friends struggling to make it in the big city. They include Mark, a filmmaker and the narrator of the story; his former girlfriend, Maureen, a performance artist; Maureen’s lover, Joanne, a public interest lawyer; Mark’s roommate Roger, a musician; Mimi, an exotic dancer, with whom Roger falls in love; Tom Collins, a computer genius; Collins’ lover, Angel, a street musician and drag queen; and Benny, a former member of the group who, after marrying into a wealthy family, has become their landlord. How these young bohemians negotiate their dreams, loves, and conflicts provides the narrative thread to this groundbreaking musical.
A struggling Jewish documentary filmmaker and the narrator of Rent, Mark, and Roger his best friend and roommate, live in “an industrial loft on the corner of 11th street and Avenue B” in New York City. After being dumped by his girlfriend Maureen for a woman, he decides on the Christmas Eve of 1989 to create a documentary and “shoot without a script”.
Mark is kind, idealistic and penniless but his ambitions are not ones of wealth, but of encouraging love and support in a New York City that is struggling with homelessness, inequality and the AIDS pandemic.
An ex-junkie and once successful “pretty boy front man” of a rock band, Roger is now fighting a battle with depression; triggered by the death of his girlfriend, who took her own life after learning they were both HIV+.
Roger is now focussing all of his energy into writing one last song before his illness consumes his life. Housebound and highly defensive, Roger’s world is turned on it’s head when he begins to fall in love with his neighbour, Mimi, who long ago might have lit up his heart but now terrifies him to the point of self destruction.
Living alone in the same New York apartment complex as Mark and Roger, Mimi supports her wild lifestyle and drug addiction by working as a dancer at the Cat Scratch Club.
HIV+ but not afraid to keep partying hard, she is a bold, free spirited and optimistic, 19 year old, looking for someone to share her “baggage” with. In Roger she finds this ‘someone’ that she can pull into her wild world as she lives out her motto “no day but today”.
A radical Ivy League-educated lesbian lawyer and activist, Joanne took a different career path to what her powerful and politically respected parents expected.
The girlfriend of Maureen, Joanne’s competent and meticulously organised nature is constantly challenged by Maureen’s explosively sexual and wild persona. She supports the revolution her bohemian friends are fighting for, but she prefers to fight her battles in a courtroom, as opposed to a cafe.
Benjamin Coffin III
A former bohemian-turned-yuppie sellout, Benny was Mark and Roger’s roommate until he married Alison Grey of the Westport Greys; a wealthy family with ties to the real estate industry. Now Benny is Mark and Roger’s Landlord and although he had previously been letting them live in the apartment for free, he is now demanding they start paying.
Slick, charming and aspirational, Benny wants his friends to join his rich and successful lifestyle, but he is struggling to lift Mark and Roger from their squalor and insatiable addiction to Bohemia.
Computer genius, teacher, vagabond anarchist. Collins was recently expelled from his job at MIT for his theories of “actual reality”. He is now back in New York to rejoin his friends Mark and Roger, and to share his political views to the undergrad “couch potatoes” at NYU.
A carrier himself, Collins is committed to fighting for the rights of people living with AIDS. He partners with street-percussionist Angel Schunard (who is also HIV+) and together they attend weekly support meetings to share stories and offer support to others who are also infected.
Their relationship becomes the heart of Rent, as the genuine love and devotion they have for one another brings hope and inspiration to their entire friendship group.
A diva with a revolutionary spirit and an avant-garde passion to satirize capitalism and inequality, Maureen strives to embody bohemian values, commenting on the world through performance art.
Confident, flirtatious, and self-centred, Maureen is preparing for a theatrical show-down with Benny over the elimination of her performance space.
Angel Dumott Schunard
Street drummer by day and drag queen by night, Angel is strong, generous, and eternally optimistic.
Angel is a regular attendee at the local ‘Life Support’ group – a gathering that helps people coping with ‘Life’ (HIV). The relationship between Angel and Collins provides the heart of the Rent family – constantly reminding those around them that there really is No Day but Today.
For more information and to book tickets to RENT The Musical at the Williamstown Mechanics Institute Theatre, visit the Williamstown Musical Theatre Company website.