NEGAUNEE - Ask "Rent" co-director Eliisa Gladwell what she would say to recommend the production to someone unfamiliar with it and you'll get a very enthusiastic response.
"It's a most amazing story done by the most amazing people," Gladwell said. "It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It's a beautiful story and it has something for everyone."
"Rent," the Tony-award winning musical, is being presented by the Peninsula Arts Appreciation Council at the Vista Theater in Negaunee June 12-14 and June 18-21.
Above, the cast of “Rent”?rehearses at the Vista Theater in Negaunee. Below, Michael Doak, who plays Roger, holds Jessica Carpenter, who portrays Mimi. The musical will be brought to life at the Vista June 12-14 and June 18-21. (Journal photos by Renee Prusi)
Co-director Andy Kulie said many hours are being put in by a devoted cast and crew to bring the musical to life.
"We started several weeks ago and we're in the midst of the rehearsal process," Kulie said. "There is some amazing talent both on the stage and behind the scenes. It's turning into a beautiful, wonderful production. The cast is amazing and the singing is fantastic. We have some strong actors in this group.
"Plus the costumers, the set crew, everyone is working so hard to try to get everything ready."
Winner of a Pulitzer Prize, "Rent," written by Jonathan Larson, is loosely based on Puccini's "La Boheme." It is the story of a group of friends struggling with love, substance abuse and AIDS.
This marks Kulie's fourth PAAC production as director or co-director.
"I have always loved this show. It's one of my favorite musicals," he said. "You kind of see the plot inside and out. It's a lot of fun but there's a lot more to it. You're seeing and hearing one thing but when you're able to delve into it, you see how certain things come together to tell the story overall."
"Rent" is not a simple production.
"It really is a complex show," Kulie said. "There's a lot of music in the production, beautiful music. There are a lot of words, which adds to the complexity. We are lucky to have amazing musical talent and amazing technical people involved in 'Rent.'"
Taking to the stage for PAAC's production of "Rent" will be Ricky Peterson as Mark, the character who serves as narrator; Liza Hunter as Maureen, Mark's former lover; Brady Skewis as Angel, a drag queen street musician; Michael Doak as Roger, Mark's HIV-positive roommate; Jessica Carpenter as Mimi, an HIV-positive exotic dancer and Mark's lover; Luke Anderson as Tom Collins, a former roommate and the HIV-positive computer genius; Erin Morgan as Joanne, a lawyer who is Maureen's lover; and Matt Gilbertson as Benny, a former friend who married well and now is landlord of the building in which Mark and Roger live.
In the acting ensemble are Ellen Lindblom, Andrew "Bear" Tyler, Tina Nelson, Kasey Hall, Tiffanie Foster, Alex Cowles, Jessica Brooks, Taylor Bordeaux, Ben Bickler, Alaina O'Brien, Tom Pascoe, Kendra Klein and Rachel Pascoe.
The behind-the-scenes crew includes Matt Mitchell, music director; Paige Graham, assistant music director and accompanist; Roscoe Schieler, vocal director; Ryan Henry, technical director; Emmye Wiig, costume, hair and makeup design; Gladwell, choreographer; and Tyler, stage manager.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students in high school and younger. Tickets can be purchased at the Vista Theater Thrift Shop in Negaunee; Snowbound Books in Marquette; Johnson Drug Store in Ishpeming; or at the door.
Call 475-7188 for more information.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 240. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.