Rent breaks box office records at St James Theatre

Lucie Jones

Lucie Jones and Layton Williams (pictured below) join the cast of Rent at St James Theatre

The 2oth anniversary production of the innovative American musical RENT has become the fastest-selling show in history at the St James Theatre.

Within the first 24 hours the show, which will play a Christmas season at the London venue from 8 December until 28 January 2017, had broken the theatre’s records for the most amount of money taken on the first day of sales.

Presented by Robert Mackintosh and Idili Theatricals in association with Theatr Clywd and Wales Millennium Centre, the production of Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical will begin a UK tour at Theatr Clywd in October.

Directed by Bruce Guthrie, the show will play a limited season at Theatr Clywd from 21 October until 12 November before embarking on a three-week tour prior to its run at the St James.

Commenting on the news of the record ticket sales producer Mackintosh said: “I am delighted that the reaction to the 20th anniversary production of RENT, by way of ticket sales, has been so strong, especially for my first venture with co-producers Ingrid Sutej and Miguel Esteban.”

Key roles will be played by Ross Hunter (Rock of Ages, Legally Blonde); Billy Cullum (Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory); Ryan O’Gorman (Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera); Shanay Holmes (Thriller Live, The Bodyguard); Layton Williams (Billy Elliot and the original Young Michael Jackson in Thriller Live); Philippa Stefani (In The Heights, I Can’t Sing!) and X Factor finalist Lucie Jones (Legally Blonde, American Psycho).

Layton WilliamsThe cast will also include Kevin Yates, Jordan Laviniere, Christina Modestou, Bobbie Little, Jenny O’Leary and Katie Bradley. Casting for the role of Benjamin Coffin III has yet to be announced.

The new production of RENT will have choreography by Lee Proud, set design by Anna Fleischle and costume design by Loren Elstein. Lighting design will be by Rick Fisher with sound design by Mike Walker, video design by Andrzej Goulding, musical direction by Phil Cornwell and casting is by Will Burton Casting.

Inspired by Puccini’s opera La Bohème, Larson’s critically acclaimed work won four Tony Awards, six Drama Desk Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1996.

The new production’s director Guthrie said: “I am delighted to be working with a truly world-class creative team on this new production of Jonathan Larson’s classic musical. Our aim is to serve the fans of the show who have loved it so passionately since its groundbreaking premiere Off-Broadway in 1996, while introducing it to a new generation of musical theatre fans.

“We want to capture the essence of bohemian New York City at the height of the AIDS epidemic. It’s a place of grime and excitement, where voices are fighting to be heard and the inhabitants are fighting to connect with one another, as well as fighting for their lives.

“The musical is a celebration of life and living in the moment. It’s blood and bone, sweat and tears, laughter and joy, despair, hate and love, all in this one remarkable year shared by a group of friends. It is a privilege to be working on one of the great ‘moment’ musicals and to celebrate 20 years of RENT.”

Following the Theatr Clywd run the tour will play Aberdeen’s His Majesty’s Theatre (15-19 November); the Malvern Festival Theatre (22-26 November); and the Wycombe Swan (29 November – 3 December).

RENT has book, music and lyrics by Larson, musical arrangements by Steve Skinner, original concept and additional lyrics by Billy Aronson, music supervision and additional arrangements by Tim Weil, and the dramaturg is Lynn Thomson.

Angela Thomas

Tickets for RENT are available HERE.

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