Murray's Playhouse in the Park opens a two week run of the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning musical, RENT this Thursday. Based loosely on Puccini's La Boheme, RENT deals with mature themes as it follows young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York's Lower East Side under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. Joshua Byrn and Brad Brauser speak with Kate Lochte on Sounds Good with a preview of the "Playhouse After Dark" production.
Joshua Byrn says RENT bridged the gap between the classical musicals of the 20th century and the rock and punk music he grew up with, inspiring him to pursue getting involved in musical theatre. Because of the show's unconventional sound and mature subject matter, the "after dark" distinction pushes its opening time back and separates the production from the rest of Playhouse's season. In the future, the "After Dark" concept of edgier and modern programming may become more commonplace in the season.
The show is very music heavy and was difficult learning the music because it's presented in a conversational tone, Byrn says. Brauser says what made the show easier for him to direct was that much of the cast already knew the music, having grown up listening to the musical soundtrack or watching the film. The directors made an effort to have the actors develop relationships with each other as their characters, so that dramatic moments feel genuine to the audience.