This Masterpiece is in Good Hands in Anderson
BY SANDY STAGGS
Rent, one of Broadway’s longest-running musicals, is experiencing a revival of sorts in the Upstate with the Market Theatre Company kicking off the first of two productions this year in the Upstate – Spartanburg Little Theatre tackles this Jonathan Larson masterpiece in July 2023.
Directed by Christopher Rose, who offers love and respect for the material and the challenging space at Anderson Arts Center, Rent is a joyous affair about serious subject matter, and infused with open arms and cool vibes from this talented and large company of 19 members.
Following a band of struggling artists in the East Village with a backdrop of homelessness, addiction, and AIDS, Rent is loosely based on Puccini’s La Boheme.
Eschewing elaborate scenery and set pieces, props (that payphone rocks!), and costumes (aside from our drag character Angel), Rent is all about the music (music director Julie Florin), characters and story. But for actors, well, it’s RENT! And this cast gets it right!
The dynamite leads are Noah Taylor (Market Theatre Artistic Director) as the aspiring filmmaker who always has his Super 8 camera on hand (and a song) Mark; and Tim Spears strumming a guitar and composing in the role of Roger. Market regular Drew Whitley dazzles again as Tom Collins, a nerdy computer whiz who falls for local drag queen Angel (played by the incredible Dee Werts in a stunning portrayal of verve and integrity).
DeAndre Presley plays the landlord Benny; Bre Jeter is Mimi the stripper and heroin addict; and as the infamous lesbian couple who break up in the song “Take Me or Leave Me” are Kelseigh Redmon as Joanne and E. Lauren as Maureen in the absolute best moment in Rent. These ladies slay!
Of course, “Seasons of Love” at the top of act two is the “kum ba ya” moment that we all know and cherish, and cry when it’s sung live by an incredible ensemble like the Market’s.
Rounding out this vibrant (very vibrant and energized) ensemble in many roles from dancers (choreography by the one and only Vaughn Newman with assistance from Mary Haley Thompson), to the homeless to answering machine voices: Mark Cawood, Victoria Cox, Kelly Davis, Courtney Dorn, Drake King, Cole Lewis, Mimi Massey, Cierra Moss, Kelly Neal, Thor Raines, and Absalon Richardson.
And kudos for Rose and the Market team for employing understudy backups during this time of Covid and flu.
Rent continues through November 14 at the Market Theatre Company, 110 Federal St. in Anderson. Visit https://markettheatre.org/ for showtimes and reservations.
DIRECTOR – Christopher Rose
MUSIC DIRECTOR – Julie Florin
CHOREOGRAPHER – Vaughn Newman
ASSOCIATE CHOREOGRAPHER – Mary Haley Thompson
STAGE MANAGER – Libby Pennington
ASST. STAGE MANAGER – Rosie Thompson
ASST. STAGE MANAGER/SOUND DESIGNER – Alex Bennett
TECHNICAL DIRECTOR & MASTER CARPENTER – Dalton Cole
SCENIC DESIGNER – Noah Taylor
COSTUME DESIGNER – Kelsey Crews
LIGHTING DESIGNER – Thomas Cawood
ASSOCIATE TECHNICAL DIRECTOR – Drew Kenyon
PROP MANAGER/LIGHTING OPERATOR – Tosha Andrews
RESIDENT SCENIC ARTIST &
ASST. PROP MANAGER – Alexis Morehead
MUSIC ASSISTANCE – Janice Issa Wright