Written by 9:47 pm Anaheim, Musical, Review, The Chance Theater, Theater, Uncategorized

Rent @ Chance Theater – Review

Photo by Doug Catiller

Written by Patrick Chavis

The Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent, based on the opera La Bohème is now playing at the Chance Theater in Anaheim from July 21 – Aug 27, 2023.

Rent is the story of struggling artists in New York City around the late ’80s, early ’90s. A group of friends, artists, and lovers quarrel, make love, and deal with the rampant AIDS epidemic at the time.


I don’t take the word classic lightly. Even if a play does well, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will become a classic. Strangely enough, we don’t always know what will or won’t become a classic. A play may resonate strongly with people at the time, but it shortly fizzles out. Other times the story or play goes right over people’s heads, and it’s not until later that people realize how amazing it was, and that story continues to be told for generations. It’s hard to tell whether a story will last or fade away into obscurity, but Rent is a modern classic. While there have been undeniable changes since this show premiered in 1996 — the theme of artists struggling in a society that values profit over creativity and human dignity is more relevant than ever. Plays like La Bohème and Rent continue to resonate way past the times during which the stories are set. That’s what great stories do. They are reminders, and it is important to keep telling them.


The set is what stood out the most about this production of Rent. I felt invited into the characters’ space. Scenic Designer Joe Holbrook designed a set that looks like a sizable spacious loft with beautifully lit windows, and the show maintains this feeling throughout the performance. That might sound like something that limits the performance, but it adds so much to the atmosphere. The set has at least three or four layers from the audience’s perspective. It uses this brilliant lighting from Zach Moore. Smoke comes up from the floor as if the New York City sewers are in the theatre. Because it is lit so well, the staging of the actors around the space never makes it feel crowded, and due to this set up, the room appears much larger than it is. A few songs could have benefited from more interesting choreography and movement but only a few.


The backup ensemble members are the singers and performers who aren’t supporting or leading actors. The word for these performers is spirited, and I’m all for it. It’s too many people to name, but I’ll name a few. Patrick McCormick’s dancing in this show was so joyful and full of life. Like the rest of the cast, he contributed to a wonderfully balanced chorus when everyone was singing together. When there were singing difficulties, I often heard it when singers were singing individually. The singing would sound flat occasionally, but not more than your typical live performance. Singing is difficult. Take a vocal class and watch it humble you. Mikey Miro made every moment exciting and fun to watch. Autumn Kirkpatrick had some great vocals, and her performance on the phone as the worried mother was incredible.

This show has some strong leads: Gavin Cole (Roger), Luc Clopton (Mark Cohen), and Lena Ceja (Mimi). All of these actors deliver on the vocals. Their acting is at a high level, but some moments could have been more polished. Some of these differences are only noticed by critics. Overall, the acting in this was great.

Lena Ceja has the attitude, the vocals, and the help of a great costuming and makeup department. I see at least over 50 performances a year, but I won’t be forgetting this one any time soon.

A strong lead performance from Gavin Cole — his vocals conveyed the spirit of rock n roll without losing technique.

Rent fans, musical theater fans, this isn’t a production you want to miss.

9 Overall
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Set & Design9.5
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Exceptional Show! OCR Recommended!

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Tags: , , , , , , , Last modified: December 5, 2023