The new, off-Broadway production of RENT opened Thursday, August 11 at New World Stages. The resurrection of the cult classic, written by Jonathan Larson, is being directed by Michael Greif, who directed the show's original off-Broadway and Broadway productions. The creative team includes choreographer Larry Keigwin, music supervisor Tim Weil, set designer Mark Wendland, costume designer Angela Wendt, lighting designer Kevin Adams, sound designer Brian Ronan, and projection designer by Peter Nigrini.
The cast of Rent is Annaleigh Ashford (Maureen Johnson), Margot Bingham (Alexi Darling, Roger's Mom, and others), Adam Chanler-Berat (Mark Cohen), Nicholas Christopher (Tom Collins), Arianda Fernandez (Mimi Marquez), Marcus Paul James (Mr. Jefferson, Paul, and others), Tamika Sonuja Lawrence (Mrs. Jefferson, woman with bags), Corbin Reid (Joanne Jefferson), Michael Rodriguez (Angel Schunard), Matt Shingledecker (Roger Davis), Ephraim Sykes (Benjamin Coffin III), Ben Thompson (Christmas caroler, Mr. Grey, The Man, and others), Michael Wartella (Steve, Gordon, Waiter, and others), and Morgan Weed (Mark's Mom and others). Also in the company is Sean Michael Murray, Xavier Cano, and Genny Padilla.
Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal: Despite the fact that Michael Greif, the show's first director, has restaged it, this "Rent" is not a remounting but a true revival, featuring an all-new cast and freshly designed sets by Mark Wendland, whose metal scaffolding echoes the fire-escape motif of Oliver Smith's now-legendary décor for "West Side Story." At the same time, no attempt has been made to update the show, and its overall effect is essentially the same. All that's changed is the people in the audience: They're still young, but precisely because they're so youthful, Mr. Larson's affectionate portrait of bohemian New York in the early '90s clearly comes across to them not as an exercise in nostalgia for the good old bad old days but as a theme-park re-creation of a world they never knew. They might as well be watching "Woodstock"-or "West Side Story," for that matter.
Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: Mark Wendland's two-tiered set constantly brims with people moving and singing. But there's no sense of kinetic energy, just strenuous bustle. Meanwhile the actors tackle the characters and Larson's now-iconic score with varying success. Rodriguez stands out as a badass Angel, while Reid and Christopher are in fine, warm voices. The biggest surprise is Ashford's bubbly and decidedly comic Maureen - the opposite of Idina Menzel's predatory one. It feels counterintuitive at times, but at least Ashford gives us something new to chew on.