Los Medanos College’s drama program wowed the audience with Jonathan Larson’s “RENT” on opening night in Pittsburg’s California Theater. The two-act play, directed by Drama Department chair Nick Garcia, focuses on real life experiences such as AIDS and same-sex relationships.
The LMC rendition of “RENT” features a diverse cast, with unique choreography and singing performances. Snippets of dialogue were set to music so the play was done in a song-after-song format.
More than 100 people attended the Dec. 3 show, and participated and cheered the actors on.
The story centers on a group of friends struggling in New York to pay their rent. The characters displayed a variety of emotions —uncertainty, love, betrayal, and sadness — and the audience connected with those feelings.
There were vivid and bright moments on stage such as the scene with drag queen Angel (played by Xavier Johnson) and her boyfriend Collins (played by Richard Hayes) singing about their love for each other. And there were moments of angst, such as the scene in which Junkie Mimi (played by Zinah Abraha) tries to convince Mark’s friend Roger (played by Timothy Morris) to go out with her. Mark was uncertain, having recently lost his girlfriend to AIDS.
The audience caught the numerous sexual innuendos of various characters throughout the play, as well as the inside jokes made by aspiring filmmaker Mark (played by Tanner Johnson).
The only problem to mar an otherwise quality show happened at the beginning, when there was some confusion about what was going on in the first singing number. I enjoyed the singing and choreography, as well as the lighting, which matched the tone of each scene.
I’m used to seeing LMC’s plays in the college’s Little Theater, so with its professional amenities the California Theatre was a step up with better lighting and seating. As a result of the improved lighting, the characters were more noticeable on stage.
And despite the confusing opening, the one hour and fifty minute play was exhilarating because it was so emotionally uplifting.
The costumes the characters wore were edgy and distinctive.
Johnson as Angel stole the show with his distinctive voice and raw talent. Abraha as Mimi stood out with her powerful voice and carefree personality. The entire cast worked well together to put on an amazing show.
Overall, I recommend, “RENT” because it connects to the everyday experiences we deal with as humans, and I could identify with the characters and feel their emotions.
The play closes Dec. 6, so act fast if you want to see this play. Tickets are $12-$18, and the California Theater is located in downtown Pittsburg at 351 Railroad Av. For information or tickets, call 427-1047.