On the nights of Tuesday 30th of April and Thursday 2nd of May, I went to view the local youth groups performance of RENT (School Editon) here are my thoughts on the amazing performances I saw!
I’ll start by saying WOW! These kids are incredible! This is the 5th time seeing Young Gen perform (having seen 13, Our House, West Side Story, and Les Miserables in the past) and these kids always put on a show! Rent is also one of my favourite musicals so I’m not gonna lie before seeing it on Tuesday I was scared that being a school version it would change a lot of things about the musical I know and love (some drastic cuts from what I read online include cutting the AIDS storyline and substitute it with diabetes!) , but it was far from being different, a few cut references and lyrics but I’ll get to that later. For now lets talk about the performace!
I adored this version so much Tuesday that I just had to book it again for Thursday where I adored it even more! The cast was incredible in every way, the dancing, acting and singing all amazing!
Dan H as Mark Cohen: I’ll start off saying these performances gave me a new love for the character of Mark (have never been the biggest fan of the character in the past from when I first watched it but am growing a lot to the character as time goes on), Mark is the narrator of the musical and Dan definitely carried that through from start to finish! Mark also struggles throughout the musical with self-belief especially in the song Halloween/Goodbye Love in act 2, which was very clear in Dan’s portrayal. Dan’s vocal ability as well as perfect for Mark, dude can sing! (His portrayal of Jean ValJean in Les Mis: School Edition was amazing as well!) Loved everything about this Mark! From his nerdiness (Mainly shown in Life Support) to his love for his and friends, Mark is also the optimist of the musical (In contrast to Rogers emptiness) which was done nicely as well! I LOVED his performance in La Vie Boheme as well! Wanted to join but god knows I’m tone deaf😂. His standout moments: Rent, Tango Maureen, La Vie Boheme (Both A&B) and Halloween!
Matt H as Roger Davis: I’ll start by saying that Roger is my favourite male in the musical so I was eager to see a live portrayal of the character. The first time at least in the first act Matt was vocally a bit shaky whether that was to do with nerves as it was only the second performance and the official opening night or whatever but as the musical went on he definitely warmed to the character more and by Thursday he had definitely perfected his performance of Roger. I loved his acting with Roger he acted the tough yet fragile role to a T, his vocals on Thursday especially during One Song Glory and Your Eyes were some of my favourites! He had amazing chemistry with Livi who played Mimi (Rogers girlfriend in the show). Overall I loved this Roger despite his slightly weaker start! His standout moments: One Song Glory, Another Day and Your Eyes.
Jordan W. as Tom Collins: I’ll start by saying that Collins and Angel deserved better and that they don’t deserve what happens in act 2. Moving on to Jordan as Collins, along with Mark, Collins has never been a favourite character in the musical but Jordan like Dan gave me a new love for the character. Collins is a professor at New York Uni who dreams of an easier life when he meets Angel a drag queen after being beaten up and mugged on Christmas Eve. Collins doesn’t have the easiest time during the musical but is easily one of the purest characters in the show and Jordan’s performance definitely highlighted that. His vocals were amazing especially during the I’ll Cover You Reprise (I May have sobbed the second time around). Jordan’s performance definitely made me want to move to Santa Fe with all of them, Jordan also had a lot of chemistry with his characters love interest, in this case, Paul as Angel, you just wanted to stay in act 1 with them and not to go into the pain that is act 2, As I said he gave me a new appreciation of Collins and that is the truth, great performance. Stand out moments: Santa Fe, I’ll Cover You and I’ll Cover You Reprise.
Jack G as Benjamin Coffin III: For someone who’s character you are supposed to hate I enjoyed this performance a lot! I know everyone hates Benny as the character is awful but Jack NAILED that! His Benny gave me real Joffery vibes (if you watch Game of Thrones you’ll know who that is) which made me hate ‘him’ more. Although Benny hasn’t got a solo in the musical he does have one moment which is a song called You’ll See which Jack gave a great performance in. I wish the school version showed that in act 2 Benny ended up being an alright character instead of taking him away from the group because of his and Mimi’s relationship but Benny is the ‘villain’ of the story so that makes sense, wish Benny had more lines so we coulda seen Jacks performance more but I loved the bits we did get! Standout performance: You’ll See.
Phoebe W as Joanne Jefferson: I’ll start this off with the fact that Joanne is another of my favourites along with Roger and Mimi so I again I was eager to Phoebe in the role…let me tell you was one of the best performers! Her Joanne was amazing! Especially during Tango: Maureen and Take Me or Leave Me. Not only was Phoebe a great actress with Joanne (highlighted in her little side bits in La Vie Boheme with Virginia) her vocals were Amazing. My favourite Joanne moment the show is always Tango: Maureen and seeing it live was incredible (all of the kids including the ensemble are SO talented), you really feel like her and Dan (Mark) were at odds (due to Mark being Maureen’s ex), her acting in that song as well was great, especially when Joanne starts doubting Maureen. Her and Virginia’s Take Me or Leave Me performance was also amazing, as well as the chemistry! Loved this portrayal! Standout Moments: Tango: Maureen, We’re Okay and Take Me or Leave Me.
Paul F as Angel Schunard: First things first…..Paul SLAYS it in those heels…as a female who falls over in trainers and on a flat service…HOW!? Find it a little unfair, to be honest, 😂 That being said I LOVED Pauls performance of Angel, He absolutely nailed Angel’s personality which was great to see! As soon as I saw his Angel I knew he was gonna be a great addition to the cast and I was right! His Today 4 U performance was PERFECT, all of the numbers were but especially Today 4 U! I loved his scenes and story with Jordan as I said in Jordan’s review, I just wanted them to stay with them in act1 and escape the pain of act 2 but like it always does, act 2 came and it ripped my heart out! His acting in Without You was heartbreaking and even though I knew it was coming it still hurt. I just want to be Angel’s friend and that went for this portrayal as well! Standout Moments: Today 4U and I’ll Cover You.
Livi K as Mimi Marquez: As someone who was going in who would probably be the judging who ever played Mimi the most, I was AMAZED at the performance that Livi gave. Mimi is my all time favourite RENT character (both in the movie and stage show) so I was definitely watching her the most, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed! At all! Her performance of Out Tonight was probably one of if not my favourite performances of the night! She fitted the role to a t! She has a killer set vocals which were highlighted in Out Tonight. She also nailed Mimi’s personality shown mostly in scenes with Matt (Roger) such as Light My Candle where she captured Mimi’s cheekiness and then Another Day where she captured Mimi’s want for love with Roger. Then in act 2 during Without You I just wanted to take Mimi’s pain away from her and make it better, then going into Goodbye Love you again wanted to take the pain away from her. During Finale A you just wanted her to get better and healthier to get that life you know she deserved with Roger (Matt). Can you tell I loved her performance?😂 Standout Moments: Light My Candle, Out Tonight, Another Day.
Virginia T as Maureen Johnson: Okaaaay vocals come through! Virginia is a little powerhouse of a performer which was definitley shown with her playing Maureen! Although we don’t see Maureen until 90% of the way through act 1 when we do she brings the house down with Maureen’s main song Over The Moon, I take my hat off to anyone who performs that song because it is SUCH a challenge with the pacing and the different notes and then when they recover from that they have to go and belt for their lives during Take Me or Leave Me, which Virginia did and which seemed like it was effortless (I’m sure it wasn’t but she sure made it sound like it was!) Whilst I don’t always agree with Maureen and her choices anyone who performs the role is incredibly talented! She also rocked the personality of Maureen, the childlike tendencies during La Vie Boheme and Happy New Year A&B were there and I always love seeing that in a Maureen! Safe to say I loved this performance as well! Standout Moments: Over The Moon and Take Me or Leave Me.
I can’t leave this post without quickly mentioning Jessie and Reuben, the Seasons of Love soloists because OKAY GUYS! They held those notes SO well!
In conclusion I loved this groups production of RENT, all of them are powerhouses and definitley did Rent justice! I look forward to seeing their next production which is 42nd street! If you live around Chelmsford in Essex and love musical theatre I really recommend coming and seeing these amazing kids performing!