Rock opera excites students and faculty
Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 01:09
With the new school year at Miami University comes a number of changes within the theatre department, including the structure of the season line-up. This season opens with the hit Broadway musical, “Rent,” on the second stage rather than a main stage production.
According to Suann Pollock, the show’s director, the department was looking for a way to kick off the new musical theatre minor.
“They were looking for a show to impassion the students,” Pollock said.
Pollock was brought in as a guest director this season, having previously directed at Miami on the production “Urinetown.” She has been connected with Miami for many years, having taught classes on the business side of theatre as she works professionally for Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.
“Rent” is the story of a group of friends living in New York City struggling to live day to day under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. Of the group of eight main characters, the story is told mostly from the point of view of Mark, played by junior Kelcey Steele.
“It starts with him coming back years in the future and remembering the past,” Steele said. “Mark is the only one who doesn’t have AIDS… so he is accepting that all his friends are dying. It’s about making the most of your friends, showing them how much you love them.”
Pollock said she believes “Rent” can have a strong impact on Miami audiences.
“People don’t realize how isolated others are in the real world when things go wrong,” Pollock said. “This is a time when people are being unsafe – they have a feeling of invulnerability. All the characters felt that way once, but now they’re figuring out their lives.”
Steele also discussed the importance to college audiences.
“Especially in a college atmosphere, people take a lot for granted, not thinking about consequences,” Steele said. “The show tells you to go out and do stuff, but don’t put it all out there because you don’t know if you can take it all back.”
“Rent” has a big fan base in both the theatre community and outside of it. Considered a rock opera, it is popular with the generation that’s going through college right now, having reached an even wider audience with the filmed version of the musical that came out in 2005.
“The music tells the story in a way that a lot of musicals don’t,” Steele said. “The message is something that’s not necessarily unique, but it brings it to another level. I wanted to be a part of bringing that message to people.”
Pollock said the show premiered a little after her generation of musicals, but after digging into it, she is excited about working on it.
“It takes a hard look at relationships, it’s beautifully crafted,” Pollock said. “There are a lot of things in the show that were shock factors when it came out. In this case, revisiting it years later, you have the opportunity to get the shock factor out and focus on the characters.”
“Rent” runs Oct. 2 to 9 in Studio 88 Theatre in the basement of the Center for Performing Arts. Tickets can be purchased through the Shriver Box Office.