Theatre Information

McCluer High School Rent

By • Apr 18th, 2013 • Category: Cappies, Missouri

The McCluer High School kids tackle difficult material and complex music in their powerful production of Rent.

The school edition of Jonathan Larson’s massively successful 1996 musical, Rent, follows various friends living in New York City and deals with topical themes such as AIDS, depression, drugs, alcoholism, and homosexuality. It is composed of almost only song with little spoken dialogue, reinventing and almost creating the rock opera with its conception. Critically and financially, Rent is a worldwide phenomenon. It changed the face of musical theater, so naturally the students of McCluer had much to live up to.

Everyone in the production stepped up to the challenge, many with great ease. At the center of the story is Roger (Lavalle Moore) and Mimi (Adrienne Thompson), both very effective and passionate with their roles. Both are vocally and physically demanding, facing great character development and difficult vocal work. However, the two always sold the audience with their confidence, natural charm, and constant energy.

In the supporting cast, one of the greatest standouts was Alexis Tucker as Maureen. She had the daunting task of bringing to life the role of the spunky, gay performer Maureen who must exude great amounts of confidence while still being likable, a tough job on its own before you consider that she must also have tremendous vocal skills. However, she blew it out of the water and her hilarious performance of “Over the Moon” brought the audience together and taught them that while watching Rent, it is more than okay to laugh when there is humor and cry when things turn dark. Alongside her was Jessica Williams as her girlfriend JoAnne whose vocals were some of the most impressive I have seen in a high school production. In “Take Me or Leave Me,” they complemented each other tremendously.

The ensemble was good at the beginning, but really came into their own throughout the show, bringing energy and spirit whenever they were onstage. When they opened Act II with “Seasons of Love”, the solos went to members of the cast who were not leads, but proved that every actor in this show had something great to bring to the table and the solos were nothing short of terrific.

The set was simplistic, but it worked and was in tune with the show. They utilized the space as much as they could and were able to use the strategy that “less is more” to their advantage. The orchestra was powerful and kept up with the music with ease, very surprising considering how much there was to learn and master. The costumes as well were very in tune with the time and setting, very much worth noting.

Rent is a show about community and love and on the stage of McCluer, there was more than enough to keep the spirit and passion of the characters and the story pulsating through the theater.

by Alex Bush of Mary Institute St. Louis Country Day School

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