No Day But Today: RENT The Musical

BY STEFITH

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Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes~

I’m currently having post-musical withdrawal syndrome, as I always do after a brilliant performance, and the soundtrack has been looping on my Spotify repeatedly, because I watched RENT and it was amazing.

Brought to you in Singapore by Pangdemonium, RENT is the story of a group of struggling artists living in New York City in the 1980s. Narrated by aspiring filmmaker Mark Cohen, it trails the ups and downs of the lives of him and his friends – many of whom are HIV positive.

The entire plot is available for reading on Wikipedia (and the musical has been around since 1996), so I’ll spoil some plot points in this post. You’ve been warned. 

Prior to watching the performance, I had only ever seen the film version, which, while fantastic, doesn’t have the grandeur of the musical. I was really excited to watch it, and it was worth every penny. The cast was A++, and the performers really did justice to their characters and to the story.

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Benjamin Chow (who was Lim Chin Siong in ‘The LKY Musical’) takes on the role of Mark, and Tabitha Nauser (of Singapore Idol fame) plays Mimi, the exotic dancer. The chemistry between Nauser and Cameron MacDonald, who plays Roger, is positively electric- Roger and Mimi have a very tumultuous relationship, and they portrayed it beautifully.

It’s a very emotionally charged musical, and I’ll admit it – I cried when Angel (played spectacularly by Aaron Khaled) died. The absolutely tragic reprise of ‘I’ll Cover You’, with Juan Jackson singing Collins’ absolutely wrenching solo, will make you cry, and I’m quite sure I wasn’t the only person in the audience shedding tears.

The real beauty of the musical is the cycle of emotions it puts you through, how the characters, many of whom are knocking on death’s door, handle their circumstances, and spotlights certain worries many of us may never voice, like Mark’s fear that he’ll be left behind after his friends die from AIDS. It reminds us to treasure all the time we have, to fight for what we believe in, and to forget our regrets, to seize the moment – no day but today, after all.

You’ll laugh and you’ll cry, and they’ll tug on your heartstrings. The stellar performance is absolutely ace, and not something I can adequately put into words, so seriously, catch it if you can.

RENT is running at the National Library’s Drama Centre Theatre from 7 – 23 October. Note that the show is rated R18 and some shows have already been sold out! Get your tickets from SISTIC – seriously, it’s a show worth watching.

 

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