Adelphi University will present the first licensed full production of RENT, the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical by alumnus JoNathan Larson B.F.A. '82, after its Broadway closing. This completely new and reconceived version of RENT will kick off the inaugural season in the University's new Performing Arts Center (AU PAC), and run from September 23 through September 28, 2008.
Larson began his musical career while as an Adelphi student, writing and composing many of the Department of Theatre's satirical cabarets, as well as other significant music pieces and songs for main stage productions.
Nicholas Petron M.A. '70, chair of the Department of Theatre, professor, and co-writer with Larson on numerous works, has assembled a creative team comprised of alumni who all worked with him during his years at Adelphi. "I can't put into words how ecstatic and honored we feel to be the first production in New York of RENT subsequent to its closure on Broadway," said Mr. Petron. "It's our testimony to Jonathan, his work, and all of our theatre alumni."
David Glenn Armstrong B.F.A. '82, a director with more than 135 productions to his credit seen in 49 states and a classmate of Larson's, will direct RENT. He and Larson wrote three musicals together in the 80s, including Saved! - An Immoral Musical on the Moral Majority, which won them both ASCAP Awards.
"I am absolutely thrilled to be returning to Adelphi after 26 years to share my Jonathan stories with our amazing cast," said Mr. Armstrong. "It is a palpable rush to direct the first full new production of RENT to be seen in 12 years. We will tell the story of these unforgettable characters in an innovative and incredibly intimate way. I'm approaching the show as a period piece - and as I'm working with actors in their early twenties, I feel a paternal responsibility to "scare them straight" about what New York City was like when the spectre of AIDS loomed over all of us in the arts world creating an atmosphere of fear, anxiety, instability and ultimately, community. Due to the stunning work of our designers, this RENT will be an incredibly theatrical and emotionally cathartic experience. Our audiences are going to revel in Jonathan's heartfelt work in a completely new and shockingly different way."
Todd Robinson B.F.A. '82, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, whose most recent film was Lonely Hearts starring John Travolta and James Gandolfini, was a classmate and roommate of Larson's. He will direct the film segments for this production, which will extensively utilize both film and video. "Jonathan was one of my closest friends pretty much from the moment we met at Adelphi," said Mr. Robinson. "We continued our friendship and creative relationship as roommates in college and later in New York and far beyond. In those early days trying to survive and be heard as artists in a climate of disease, fear and political neglect was difficult for all of us...so I understood completely what Jonathan was writing about. We all did. The existential questions of expression and survival raised in RENT are as potent today as they were in the early 90's. Therefore, I consider it a privilege to play a small role the continuing legacies of both JoNathan Larson's work and Theatre Department of Adelphi University."
Kerry Prep B.F.A. '79, an actor, singer, and composer, will serve as RENT's musical director. Prep reflected that "the creative team is in a unique position to bring not only our personal experience of the zeitgeist of the late 80s and early 90s, but also our experience of having been a part of Jonathan's life during his formative years at Adelphi. In essence, we are living bridges; connecting today's performing arts majors to the unique history we all shared with Jonathan."
Regina Larkin '77, M.A. '90, renowned for her dance performances, choreography, and teaching with such esteemed artists and companies including Carmen de Lavallade, Gelsey Kirkland, May O'Donnell, Lynne Taylor Corbett, Alvin Ailey, Eliot Feld Ballet Tech, Philadanco, and the Joyce Trisler Danscompany, previously collaborated with JoNathan Larson on numerous cabaret pieces while at Adelphi as an adjunct professor of dance and in New York City during the latter 80s. She is returning to choreograph RENT and is inspired by "the insight of Jonathan's music and lyrics to embrace RENT with physical accents that inform the human condition, worldly events, and attitudes prevalent today. I am honored to be a part of this production."
The cast of RENT, a combination of Adelphi alumni and current performing arts majors, includes Corrado Alicata '11, Chris Bott '09, Lauren Brickman '09, Christopher Caron '06 (Benny), Breezy Coleman '09, Michael DiFrancisco '09, Joey Elrose '08 (Mark), Benjamin Farha '10 (Angel), Nathaniel Foster '09, Craig Fox '09 (Tom Collins), Jessica Gray '10, Jim Kelly '09 (Roger), Natalie Margiotta '09 (Maureen), Katie Murphy '05 (Mimi), Egle Petraityte '09, Christopher Reynolds '10, Jennifer Susi '05 (Joanne), and Kayla Zaniboni '10.
Adelphi faculty and staff members Sarah Martin (sets), Sean Sullivan (costumes), and Jared Klein (lighting) will design the production. Alumnus Kevin Stromberg '08 is the sound designer. The production team also includes Allison Hersh '09 (production stage manager), Amy Bartlett '08 (assistant director), and Trevor O'Bryen '10 (assistant musical director).
A special gala performance of RENT will be held on Saturday, September 27 at 8:00 p.m. celebrating the official opening of the Performing Arts Center. Tickets include a pre-performance tour of the new 53,000 square-foot facility and a post-performance champagne reception with an opportunity to meet Al and Nan Larson (Jonathan's parents), one or more members of the original RENT Broadway cast, and members of the Adelphi production. Tickets are $150.00 ($100.00 is tax deductible). Proceeds from the Gala evenings will be used to support student scholarships in dance, music, and theatre, and the new Performing Arts Center at Adelphi University.
General ticket prices for all other performances range from $7.00 to $15.00. For tickets, call (516) 877-4000, visit http://aupac.adelphi.edu/buytickets.php, or request in person at the AU PAC box office during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Saturdays 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.).
About Adelphi University: Adelphi University, chartered in 1896, was the first institution of higher education for the liberal arts and sciences on Long Island. Through its schools and programs-The College of Arts and Sciences, the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, the Honors College, the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, University College, and the Schools of Business, Nursing, and Social Work-the co-educational university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as professional and educational programs for adults. Adelphi University currently enrolls more than 8,300 students from 40 states and 50 foreign countries. With its main campus in Garden City and centers in Manhattan, Hauppauge, and Poughkeepsie, the University maintains a commitment to liberal studies in tandem with rigorous professional preparation and active citizenship.