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'Rent' will be performed twice this week in Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium. (Provided via Performing Arts and Concert Series)

‘Rent’ Broadway tour to spark conversations and leave audiences singing

Ohio University will bring the musical Rent to the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium for two shows this week and have audiences singing for 525,600 minutes. 

Rent follows characters Mark, Roger, Collins, Mimi, Angel, Maureen and Joanne as they spend a year trying to figure out their lives and follow their artistic passions without selling out. Mark tries to kick-start his film career while dealing with his ex-girlfriend, Maureen, and her new girlfriend, Joanne. Maureen and Joanne try to navigate their relationship and Maureen’s ambition. Roger and Mimi try to figure out their relationship through drug addiction and AIDS, similarly to Collins and Angel, who deal with the effects of AIDS more directly than any other member of the group. 

Andrew Holzaepfel, senior associate director for student activities, has been working with the Performing Arts and Concert Series at OU for 20 years, and this will be the fifth time the show has come to campus. This is the second time the 20th anniversary tour of Rent has been to campus, after the tour was announced and came to campus two years ago.

“We were so excited when we found out we could bring it back to campus for two nights,” Holzaepfel said. “It’s a show that’s always well-received by students and the community alike.”

Rent was arranged as a special add-on show to the main Performing Arts and Concert Series. Holzaepfel feels the show was great for a conversation starter for audiences and a lively, exciting musical for everyone to enjoy. 

“It’s an important show that everyone should see,” Holzaepfel said. “It’s always heavily attended by OU students, and everyone leaves very entertained.”

The musical was not only a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning show, but it was one of the most controversial in subject matter. Rent started a conversation, addressed important issues and opened many eyes. The musical addresses LGBTQ+ matters, the AIDS epidemic, drug addiction and poverty. There are many important conversations started in Rent that make the musical much more meaningful. Overall, the main message is to follow your heart and pursue love.

“Its approach to Broadway was super unique at the time, what with it being a rock musical, but the strong message of joy and hope and facing your fears makes it timeless,” Holzaepfel said. 

Students are excited to see the representation of struggles in New York and the positive message they can take away from the show.

José Arias, a freshman studying pre-med psychology, grew up in the Bronx and loves to see Rent give representation of the real-life struggles happening for people in New York.

“The musical is relatable, in a way,” Arias said. “In the Bronx, I always saw people struggle with their wages and their lifestyles, so I’m happy this show is coming to campus to give students a representation of the hardships in New York.”

Faith Lucas, a freshman studying integrated media, is interested to learn about such controversial topics in the form of a musical.

“This musical is very appropriate to college students,” Lucas said. “It’ll be interesting to see the way the deep topics will affect college students’ mindsets, and to see how they will digest the show altogether.”


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