Saturday 8th April 2017, day 6 of my visits to the magnificent Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay, for my last two performances of Rent, before it moves on to another town on its anniversary tour. A cast change for today’s performances has Christina Modestou playing the role of Maureen in both shows. Having seen both Lucie and Christina in this role, I have to say just how exceptional they both are, a real treat to watch either.
As this is my last blog on Rent this week, I want to sum up all I’ve seen over the past 8 shows. If this had run for a week longer I think I would have booked another week off to watch the other shows as well. The cast have been absolutely magnificent all week, with every member giving their all, with tremendous singing from every single cast member, on every performance.
The onstage band have also been amazing, bringing the sound of Rent to life, giving it extra meaning to the live performances. I haven’t mentioned the set and lighting that much over the last week, with mostly fixed stairs and corridors, only one area moves to create the presence of another room in the disused building that Rent is centred around. A really straightforward set that sums up life in the poor parts of New York. The lighting works well, creating areas to focus on, when there is so much stuff going on around the rest of the stage. The whole thing combines brilliantly to make this the spectacle it is, a beautifully made piece of magical musical theatre.
Of course none of this would have been possible without the talents of its creator Jonathan Larson. (sadly, Jonathan died on the night of the dress rehearsal,of an aortic aneurysm, aged 36, never getting to realise just what a brilliant piece of musical theatre this show has become). Jonathan worked on Rent for seven years before this even got to be seen. What a show this has turned out to be, with so many different themes, wonderfully written songs and an energy from the cast who make it come to life. The genius of the show, for me, is its mix of musical themes, from rock to sweet sensitive music. One example of this would have to be mixing the raw, raucous sound of La vie Boheme with a beautiful ballad that is ‘I should tell you’, then finishing off the act with more from La vie Boheme, but yet it works treat, making you want even more from act two. That’s the beauty of the writing that makes this so good.
There are a few of the songs which are quite weird, and take a while to get used to, until you see it live on stage. When it finally makes sense and becomes a vital part of the whole plot. This is again due to the thought of the creator, who took a chance and made it pay off, without ever realising just how influential this musical has become.
Even though I have seen it loads, mostly from the front of the upper circle, I’ve decided to upgrade to the stalls. What a difference, to see the emotion from the cast, so close up, it makes you realise just what it must mean to them, to be involved with such a fabulous show, I know I got so much more emotional myself just by moving seat positions. Watching the emotion on the face of Philippa Stefani (Mimi) at the closing scenes made me cry even more. I hadn’t noticed this at the start of the run, but I’m glad I’ve changed seats to really experience this show a little better.
I have to say when I first bought the CD I didn’t really like it, but I persevered, buying the live stage production on Broadway on DVD, and then being blown away by just how amazing it actually was. I am so glad I have had the opportunity to watch this live, and in my favourite theatre of all, here in Cardiff Bay.
I’m so going to miss this show when it leaves Cardiff. I just hope that I don’t have to wait another 4 years to see it again. It would be nice to have exactly the same cast again, as they have all been phenomenal throughout, giving amazing performances at every show, (as I’ve been saying all week). Wow had loads of tears for final show, so moving, so emotional, so going to be missed.