RENT's 20th Anniversary with BIMM and Bird Studios


A few weeks ago, Brighton Girl was invited to the Old Market theatre to see Rent, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning musical produced by Bird Studios in collaboration with BIMM. This production marked the 20th Anniversary of the musical and the official launch of BRICTT, the Brighton Institute for Contemporary Theatre Training.

RENT is held up as the musical which spoke for a generation "living in the shadow of AIDS” and “battling the coming wave of gentrification”. The show is a testament to its writer and composer Jonathan Larson, who sadly died before seeing his creation come to life.

A musical loved by so many, RENT doesn’t shy away from addressing drug use, sex and love in the AIDS pandemic and the realities facing the disenfranchised youth of NYC in the late 1980’s.

Now, I love musicals, yet I had never seen Rent, nor did I know the story or any of the musical numbers. It seems that I and my fellow Brighton Girl were the exceptions in the room! I had debated watching the film before going, but settled on the idea of experiencing the whole production through a fresh set of eyes; a rarity in revival musical theatre.

The show was full of energy, no doubt thanks to the young and enthusiastic cast members who truly brought it to life. The production was dynamic and fast-paced, keeping much of the audience entranced and on the edge of their seat.

The chemistry between many of the duos on stage was absolutely undeniable, drawing us in all the more. The whole cast delivered incredible performances packed with humour and heartache.

While there were some unfortunate technical issues that lingered throughout the show, with microphones cutting out here and there, the musical numbers and acting were absolutely top notch.

A particularly noteworthy performance came from one the youngest cast members Ethan Cheek, who played Angel, a young trans woman with AIDS that creates a family of outcasts through sheer positivity. She put me to shame with her ability to rock some pretty epic knee high stiletto boots - I was in awe.

Ending with the cast emerging wearing red ribbons in commemoration of World AIDS Day, current director and original cast member Mykal Rand gave a touching tribute to Larson. There wasn't a dry eye in the house, myself included.

With the Brighton Institute for Contemporary Theatre Training welcoming it's first undergraduates in 2017, be sure to look out for more productions by Bird Studios. If this production is anything to go by, it's well worth grabbing yourself a ticket.

Written by Holly Foster.