Rent the Musical – St James Theatre

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Pictures: Roy Tan

Rent the Musical continues at the St James Theatre, London until 28 January 2017.

Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Each generation of theatre lovers has a show that marks an iconic cultural phenomenon for that decade and while Rent might represent this for the 1990s, its timelessness has once again reunited all ‘Rentheads’ in celebration of its 20th anniversary.

It takes place at the beginning of the decade in New York’s East Village and follows the lives and friendships of the residents who face eviction, homelessness, drug use and HIV. The show delivers a powerful message that seems even more relevant in today’s global climate, ‘No day but today’.

It can’t be easy to take on a show that has been performed and loved for 20 years by a devoted fan base, yet director Bruce Guthrie and this cast manages to keep every much-loved element of the show while making it completely their own too.

This show has the ability to take its audience through a vast spectrum of emotions and each song here is sung with so much raw emotion that it would make Jonathan Larson proud.

Mark Cohen (Billy Cullum) the film-maker, directs the audience through the story almost as if they’re watching everything through his eyes.

15451260_10211814299340939_1465378380_nRoger (Ross Hunter) and Mimi (Philippa Stefani) are the show’s star-crossed lovers, while the eccentric Maureen (Lucie Jones) and practical Joanne (Shanay Holmes) are the feisty on again-off again couple.

It’s hard not to fall in love with the relationship between Collins (Ryan O’Gorman) and his drag queen boyfriend, Angel (Layton Williams).

The whole cast is sensational, but it’s Williams’ exceptional performance in ‘Today 4 U’ that really stands out – and puts those of us who struggle to simply walk in high heels to shame.

It isn’t just the standing ovation at the end but the cheers after every song and every iconic line that shows just how firmly the show has cemented itself in theatre history.

After 20 years, it is incredible to still see people coming back to see the show time and again.

This latest cast of Rent has surely allowed a whole new generation to be part of this unforgettable show.

Tal Fox

Tickets for Rent at St James Theatre are available HERE.

Readers may also be interested in:

InterviewBruce Guthrie directs anniversary staging of Rent.

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