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Playhouse in the Park Holds Auditions for 'After Dark' Production RENT

Matt Markgraf, WKMS

The Tony Award-winning rock musical RENT, loosely based on the opera La boheme, follows the story of young artists struggling to survive in New York City and the complications of AIDS. The musical spent twelve years on Broadway and is now being staged at Murray's Playhouse in the Park as part of their After Dark series. Director Joshua Byrn directs and visits Sounds Good to talk about auditions, the show's controversial topics and the overarching theme of "no day but today."

Auditions for RENT are Monday and Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Playhouse in the Park. If you are interested, prepare a full pop-rock theatre song for the audition. Those interested in a lead role should contact Joshua Byrn at or Brad Brauser at Lead auditions will need to perform musical excerpts. The show is fully sung-through with the exception of a few spoken lines here and there. All of the characters are in their late 20s, early 30s on stage, but Byrn says you can be younger or older. There are eight leads and several ensemble roles, with a maximum of 15 actors.

The production deals with real life issues that may not make everyone comfortable, Byrn says, due to sexual orientation, the subject of HIV/AIDS and drug use. "Those things that we don't always like to think about or maybe accept, but at the end of the day they exist and they are there and it's a beautiful show that is about acceptance and loving one another and loving your life while you have it because you never know when it's going to be gone," he says.

The play debuted in 1996 and was among the first that bridged the gap between typical musical theatre and more modern rock musical theatre. It won numerous Tony Awards and the Pulitzer for Drama. It was adapted into a film in 2005, which featured several members of the original Broadway cast. It was ahead of its time in its message of "no day but today," Byrn points out, likening it to the 'YOLO' (You Only Live Once) meme that caught on a few years ago.

RENT runs Thursday, April 16 through Saturday, April 25 at Murray's Playhouse in the Park.

More on Playhouse in the Park's website

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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