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Set in the vibrant Lower Manhattan’s East Village, Rent tells the compelling story of a group of young artists grappling with survival amidst the thriving bohemian culture of Alphabet City and the looming threat of HIV/AIDS. With themes of love, self-discovery, and living in the moment, this musical remains a timeless classic. Having won the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Rent has firmly established itself as a cultural landmark with its electrifying songs and universally relatable story.

Ed Turner (Mark) and cast

Leicester Amateur Operatic Society (LAOS) boldly tackled this challenging narrative, and they did so with remarkable success. Their performance was polished, it was often easy to forget these were amateur actors. The musical numbers, renowned for their catchy melodies, were a joy to experience live. The intricate harmonies and emotional depth required by the songs were handled with commendable skill. Impressively, the performers avoided merely replicating the Broadway recording, a common mistake among amateur groups.

On a miserable Christmas Eve in Manhattan, Mark (Ed Turner) and Roger (Tom Urch) struggle to make their rent, compounded by Roger's HIV/AIDS diagnosis. Turner and Urch were perfectly cast, delivering heartfelt and nuanced performances that brought Jonathan Larson’s characters to vivid life. As someone who had only seen the film adaptation of Rent, I found some of the storytelling on stage initially jarring, but Turner and Urch’s deep understanding of their roles helped bridge the gap.

Mia Dobney (Joanne) and Charlotte Kennedy (Mimi)

The overall vocal performance of the cast was outstanding. Charlotte Kennedy (Mimi) and Dan Rowberry (Collins) delivered powerful renditions of “Without You” and “I’ll Cover You.” Charlotte Brown’s portrayal of Maureen was especially captivating, commanding the audience’s attention with every movement.

The musical arrangements, conducted by Steven Duguid and performed by a live five-piece band, were exceptional. The show’s continuous musical flow was seamless, with not a single beat out of place—an impressive feat for an amateur production. The minimalist set was effectively utilised, with chairs and modular staging creating clear and evocative imagery. Director John Bale has every reason to be proud of his cast and crew for their outstanding work. I eagerly await the next production from LAOS!

Rent Laos Curve
Cast photo for the production


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