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RENT

October 29 — December 11, 2022
Now Extended with additional performances!

Music, Lyrics & Book by Jonathan Larson+

Based loosely on Giacomo Puccini’s+
1896 opera La Bohème

Directed by Adrian Abel Azevedo+

Music Directed by Dr. Michael McBride+

Choreographed by Laura Savage*

Over the last 25 years, this Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical has become a cultural phenomenon with millions of fans around the world. Porchlight’s production celebrates this legacy and adds a new page to the story of a year in the life of a diverse group of artists struggling to survive and create in Lower Manhattan’s East Village under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. In the thriving days of bohemian Alphabet City at the end of the millennium, these friends are determined to follow their dreams without selling out.

The cast for RENT includes Bridget Adams-King* (ensemble/Maureen US); Wesly Anthony Clergé+ (swing/Collins US); Naphtali Curry+ (ensemble/Benny US);  Leah Davis* (ensemble/Joanne US); Caitlin Dobbins* (swing); Lucy Godínez* (Maureen Johnson); Nick Johnson+ (swing/US Angel); Chris Khoshaba+ (ensemble); Nik Kmiecik+ (ensemble/US Mark); Teressa LaGamba* (Joanne Jefferson); Eric Lewis+ (Tom Collins); David Moreland+ (Mark Cohen); Alix Rhode* (Mimi Marquez); Abraham Shaw+ (Benjamin “Benny” Coffin III); Josh Pablo Szabo+/^ (Angel Dumott Schunard);   TJ Tapp* (dance captain/ensemble); Brennan Urbi^/+ (ensemble/US Roger) and Shraga D. Wasserman^ (Roger Davis).

The RENT production team includes Adrian Abel Azevedo+ (director); Dr. Michael McBride+ (music director/conductor); Laura Savage* (choreographer); Ann Davis* (scenic designer); Gregory Graham+ (costume designer); Maggie Fullilove-Nugent* (lighting designer);   Josiah Croegaert+ (associate lighting designer); Matthew R. Chase+ (sound designer); Rowan Doe^ (properties designer); Kirsten Baity^ (intimacy designer);  Deborah Blumenthal* (dramaturg); Frankie Leo Bennett+ (producing artistic associate); Alex Rhyan+ (production & operations director) and Michael Weber+ (artistic director).

Current running time, including the 15 minute intermission, is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Please Note: This production of RENT includes the use of water-based haze, flashing and concert lighting and static and depictions of intravenous drug use and mentions of suicide. For questions or concerns, please contact our Box Office by phone at 773.777.9884 or via email at boxoffice@porchlightmusictheatre.org.

Pronoun Key: + (he/him/his); * (she/her/hers); ^ (they, them, theirs);  = (any with respect)


Back to 2022 — 23 Season

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SINGLE TICKETS FOR RENT RANGE FROM $25—$77 AND ARE NOW ON SALE.

For performance times and to purchase tickets, click on the BUY TICKETS button at the top or on the calendar above. Season Subscriptions are also available on sale, starting at $83. For more information on how you can save on season tickets, click here.

Please Note: This production of RENT includes the use of water-based haze, flashing and concert lighting and static. For questions or concerns, please contact our Box Office by phone at 773.777.9884 or via email at boxoffice@porchlightmusictheatre.org.

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TICKETS AT 12

Based on availability, a select and limited number of Mainstage tickets will be on sale for $25 per ticket the day of select performances. Rush tickets are subject to availability and limited to two per person. All handling fees still apply.

When tickets are available, they may be purchased directly through our box office, either in person or via phone, when we open each day at noon (on Saturdays, Sundays, and select Mondays; box office hours vary). Tickets at 12 discounts cannot be combined with additional offers or applied to previously purchased tickets.

For more information, you can call our box office at (773) 777-9884. Please view our complete box office hours here.


STUDENT TICKETS

Based on availability, a limited number of student tickets are on sale for our Mainstage shows for $20 per ticket. Tickets are subject to availability and limited to two per student. Students must present a valid student ID when picking up tickets from will call. All handling fees still apply.

When available, tickets may be purchased directly through our box office, either in person or via phone, when we open each day. Student Ticket discounts cannot be combined with additional offers or applied to previously purchased tickets.

For more information about our ticketing options, please call our box office at (773) 777-9884. Please view our complete box office hours here.


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ADRIAN ABEL AZEVEDO+ (Director)
Previously at Porchlight: Directed Porchlight Revisits Can-Can and New Faces Sing Broadway 1947, 1959 and 1969 and appeared in In The Heights

Adrian Abel Azevedo is a freelance director, producer and teaching artist in the Chicagoland area, originally from Southern California. He has worked in this community for over 10 years and is an artistic associate with Kokandy Productions where he most recently directed the Chicago premiere of Cruel Intentions. An alumni of Columbia College Chicago, he has directed, produced and taught for Chicagoland theatre companies including Goodman Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Steep Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Kokandy Productions, Teatro Vista and Music Theatre Works. Adrian recently directed the Chicago premiere of Zorro the Musical at Music Theatre Works this past summer.

 

DR. MICHAEL MCBRIDE+ (Music Director/Conductor)
Previously at Porchlight: Music Directed ICONS Gala 2020: PorchlightPalooza and Broadway by the Decade

Dr. Michael McBride is a Jeff Award-winning music director, internationally-performed composer, performer and educator. Credits include Big Fish (Boho Theatre, Jeff Award); Billy Elliot (Music Theatre Works); Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Robber Bridegroom, Jesus Christ Superstar, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Pippin, What a Wonderful World (workshop), Man of La Mancha, Mamma Mia!, Into The Woods, The Little Mermaid (Timber Lake Playhouse); The Boys and the Nuns (composer & MD), Fun Home, Violet, Cabaret, Tintypes, She Loves Me, Spring Awakening, Hot Mikado, Urinetown, Into the Woods (Loyola University Chicago); PorchlightPalooza, Broadway by the Decade (Porchlight Music Theatre); The Christmas Foundling (composer & MD; Pride Arts Center); Footloose (Wallace Bowl); The Drake Hotel holiday programming and The Cabaret Project in Chicago, St. Louis and Lake Geneva. He is proud to be music director at A Church 4 Me MCC in Chicago. He has been a guest artist at Northwestern University and is also the Area Supervisor of Music Theory, Aural Skills and Music History at North Park University.

 

LAURA SAVAGE* (Choreographer)
Previously at Porchlight: Choreographed Chicago Sings Stephen Sondheim and Chicago Sings Porchlight’s 25th Anniversary and appeared in Pal Joey, A Chorus Line and Porchlight Revisits Call Me Madam

Laura Savage recently choreographed and starred in Porchlight’s Chicago Sings Stephen Sondheim and its 2021 ICONS Gala honoring Chita Rivera. She also appeared in Porchlight productions A Chorus Line, Porchlight Revisits Call Me Madam and Pal Joey.  Savage is a Jeff-nominated actress and has appeared in more than 35 Chicago productions. She has choreographed Cruel Intentions at Kokandy Productions and Zorro at Music Theatre Works and has associate choreographed and dance captained at such venues as Marriott Theatre, Paramount Theatre and Drury Lane Theatre. Savage also appeared on and choreographed for Fox’s hit show “Empire.”

 

ANN DAVIS* (Scenic Designer)
Previously at Porchlight: Designed tick, tick…Boom!

Ann Davis has been a production manager, technical director and designer for over 20 years in the Chicago Area. Projects include building over 170 shows during this time, murals, scenic painting, masonry restoration and interiors. Highlights: painting backdrops for Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Festival, detailing projects for museums including The Art Institute of Chicago, Lyric Opera , DePaul University Opera , Theatre at the Center and IUN students. Ann holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology in Road and Building Construction with a minor in Fine Art and Masters in Scenic Design. Her website can be viewed at www.annnickelledavis.com.

 

ROWAN DOE^ (Properties Designer)
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

Rowan is thrilled to make their debut at Porchlight Musical Theatre! Recent credits include Props Design for The Chinese Lady and Campaigns, Inc. (TimeLine Theatre Company), Passage (Remy Bumppo), Once Upon A Mattress (Theo Ubique), SPAY (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble), Props Assistant for When Harry Met Rehab (Greenhouse Theatre), and Little Shop of Horrors (Metropolis Performing Arts Centre). They are the Props Designer for Niles West HS’s 2022-2023 season, and the 2022 recipient of the Michael Merritt Emerging Technical Collaborator Award.

 

GREGORY GRAHAM+ (Costume Designer)
Previously at Porchlight: Designed Porchlight Revisits Passing Strange

Gregory Graham is a costume designer and milliner in Chicago. His design credits include: Porchlight Revisits Passing Strange at Porchlight Music Theatre; Gloria at UIC School of Theatre and Music; Fireflies at Northlight Theatre; On the Greenbelt and Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins at Strawdog Theatre; The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice at Court Theatre; DREAM: A Community Reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre; The Facts of Life: Satan’s School for Girls, The Drag Seed, Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes Vol.3, Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes -Valentine’s Day Edition at Hell in a Handbag Productions. Regional: Raisin at Skylight Music Theatre and Blood at the Root at Millikin University, School of Theatre and Dance. Gregory received his BA in Theatre Design from University of Illinois at Chicago . www.gregorygrahamdesign.com

 

MAGGIE FULLILOVE-NUGENT*(Lighting Designer)
Previously at Porchlight: Designed Sunset Boulevard and The Ruffians’ Burning Bluebeard

Maggie Fullilove-Nugent has been working as a production manager and designer with Chicago theatres for two decades and is thrilled to be returning to Porchlight Music Theatre (Sunset Boulevard, Burning Bluebeard). Other design credits include The Magic Play (Goodman Theater); Godspell, Cabaret (Theo Ubique); Too Heavy for Your Pocket (TimeLine Theatre); Endgame, Six Characters in Search of An Author, and The Threepenny Opera (The Hypocrites); Burning Bluebeard (The Ruffians); Roustabout, Fake Lake, Wildcats, and 44 Plays for 44 Presidents (Neo-Futurists). Maggie is currently the Production Manager at TimeLine Theatre, a leader of the Chicago Green Theatre Alliance, and a director of For The Group. She is dedicated to moving the Chicago Theatre Community towards safer, more sustainable and equitable practices, while lighting them beautifully. She would like to thank her supportive friends and family, and especially Josiah, the best lighting partner in town.

 

JOSIAH CROEGAERT+ (Associate Lighting Designer)
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

Josiah Croegaert is a Columbia College graduate. He recently designed Last Hermanos at A Red Orchid Theatre. Josiah has also been the assistant designer for Wife of a Salesman at Writers Theatre and Godspell at Theo Obique. He is thrilled to be working alongside Maggie Fullilove-Nugent again! josiahcrodesign.com

 

MATTHEW R. CHASE+ (Sound Designer)
Previously at Porchlight: Designed Spring Awakening and Porchlight Revisits Passing Strange

Matthew R. Chase is a Chicago-based theatrical sound designer and production manager. Recent credits include: Sound Design of Nunsense, Spring Awakening, Passing Strange and Clear (Porchlight Music Theatre); Who’s Holiday (Theater Wit); Anyone Can Whistle, Cooking With Bubbie & Veronica’s Room (Skokie Theatre); Gigi’s Party (Yellow Rose Theatre); Urinetown and Xanadu (Columbia College Chicago); 9 To 5 and Mamma Mia! (Golden Ticket Productions).  Assistant Sound Designer for Sophisticated Ladies, Sunset Boulevard, A Chorus Line and A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder (Porchlight Musical Theatre); Hedwig and The Angry Inch (Theo Ubique); The Ballad Of Lefty & Crabbe (Underscore Theatre Company). Matthew Is the resident production manager at Theater Wit for Mr. Burns A Post-Electric Play!, Who’s Holiday and Hurricane Diane.

 

SMOOCH MEDINA+ (Projection Designer)
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

Smooch Medina (lighting/projection design) is thrilled to be working with Porchlight Theatre for the first time on Rent. Smooch Medina is a Chicago area designer whose other show credits include Projection design for Sheep Dog (Shattered Globe), Watsons go to Birmingham (Chicago Children Theatre), Alice in Wonderland (Goveners State University) A Swell in the Ground, Pilgrims, and A Life Extra Ordinary (The Gift Theatre), Women in Jeopardy (First Folio), Silent Sky (First Folio), Saturn Returns (Neo-Futurists), Estrella Cruz: The Junkyard Queen (Halcyon Theatre), The White Road – Jeff Nominated (Irish Theatre of Chicago), Tightwire (Chicago Tap Theatre), and lighting design for A Little World of Our Own (Irish Theatre of Chicago), Nutcracker (Legere Ballet Company), The Feast (Red Theatre Company). Smooch holds a BFA in Lighting Design from Columbia College Chicago and you can see his other work by visiting Smoochdesign.com

 

JOSE MARTINEZ+/^ (Scenic Charge)
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

Jose Martinez is so excited to join the Porchlight team. Jose paints all around the city with recent credits being Refuge (Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre), Campaign Inc (Timeline Theatre co) and Tiger Style (Writers Theatre)

 

EMMA ROSEMARY* (Wardrobe Supervisor)
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

Emma Rosemary is a wardrobe professional who has worked in Texas, Washington State, and now Illinois. Most recently she has worked on Lookingglass Theatre’s ‘Lookingglass Alice’, and Chicago Opera Theatre’s world premiere of ‘Quamino’s Map’. She also works as the rentals manager at Conscious Costume. In her spare time Emma enjoys making and wearing historical clothing, exploring museums and nature, and hanging out with her cat (who thinks she is a pigeon) Zinnia.

 

KAT ANDERSON*/^ (Wardrobe Assistant)
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

Kat Anderson has been working in theater and the apparel industry for over a decade. When not backstage, they serve as the Member Services Coordinator for the Apparel Industry Board and manage the AIBI Fashion Lab. Her “free time” is spent studying historical garment construction and 15th century longsword. 

 

RACHEL WEST* (Lighting Supervisor)
Previously at Porchlight: Nunsense, Passing Strange

Rachel has been serving as the lighting supervisor for Porchlight since the 2016. She has designed several Revisits productions, most recently Nunsense and Passing Strange. Rachel is an Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater, and is currently the lighting designer for Alma. Rachel works regularly with the Mercury Theater and The Black Ensemble Theater. She is a Chicago-area native and a graduate of the Boston University School of Theatre.

 

JAMIE DAVIS^ (Audio Engineer (until 12/3))
Previously at Porchlight: Spring Awakening, Sophisticated Ladies, Sunset Boulevard, A Chorus Line, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, select Revisits

Jamie Davis (they/them): Porchlight: Spring Awakening, Sophisticated Ladies, Sunset Boulevard, A Chorus Line, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, and select Revisits. Chicago: It Came from Outer Space (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), How the Hell Did I Get Here (Greenhouse Theater Center), 110 in the Shade (BoHo), Chicago Dance Center. Regional: A Wonderful World (Miami New Drama), Ghosts (Williamstown Theater Festival. Jamie is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago.

 

PAYTON KAYE+ (Audio Engineer (starting 12/4))
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

Payton Kaye (Audio Engineer, He/Him) is thrilled to be working with PMT for the first time! Payton is a recent graduate of the DePaul University School of Music, where he studied sound recording technology, composition and jazz trombone. He works regularly as a sound designer, sound engineer, and recording engineer for theatre, music, and A/V events in the Chicagoland area. Recent sound credits include Dogfight and Charlie Brown (point2productions), Beauty and the Beast (TCSC, Schaumburg on Stage), RENT (Beacon Academy), Captain Louie (Ovation Academy). Absolutely massive shout-out to Rob, Donna, and Michele. He hopes you enjoy the show!

 

DAVID SABBAGH+ (Audio Assistant)
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

David Sabbagh is excited to be here at Porchlight for his first job in Chicago! He is an audio technician and stage manager from North Carolina. Previous professional work includes working as the Sound Assistant for the 2022 season at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, WI, and multiple shows at Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, FL including: Sound and projections designer for Kunstler, front of house mixer for Bright Star, and stage manager for Guitar Girls

 

HEATHER GERVASI* (Production Assistant)
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

Heather Gervasi (she/her) is ecstatic to be joining the Porchlight Music Theatre team as the Mainstage Production Assistant and Spotlight Operator. As a 2020 college grad with a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance and a minor in Communications, this is an adventure that she wasn’t sure she would get to experience. The pandemic has taken so much away from countless creatives, she cannot express her gratitude for this opportunity. She is incredibly thankful for the love that got her here.

 

JAIME SILVERMAN* (Wardrobe Supervisor)
Previously at Porchlight: Blues in the Night

Jamie Silverman is a Costume Design M.F.A. candidate at Tulane University. At Tulane she costume designed Eclipsed for her thesis show as well as co-costume designed She Kills Monsters with Stephanie Dixon. During her undergrad at Clark University, she designed The Little Mermaid which won the U. S. Institute Theatre Technology Meritorious Award as well as Honorable Mention at the Kennedy Center AmericanCollege Theatre Festival, Region 1. Most Recently she was Wardrobe Supervisor for Blues in the Night at Porchlight.


Pronoun Key: + (he/him/his); * (she/her/hers); ^ (they, them, theirs);  = (any with respect)


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Listed in alphabetical order.

BRIDGET ADAMS-KING* (Ensemble/Maureen US)
Previously at Porchlight: Appeared in New Faces Sing Broadway 1964

Bridget is over the moon to make her Porchlight Music Theatre Mainstage debut! Previously seen in Porchlight’s New Faces Sing Broadway 1964. Recent credits include: “Claire/Rachel”, Queer Eye: The Musical Parody (The Second City); “Lucy Parsons” (Jeff nom.), Haymarket (Underscore Theatre Company); “Kate”, (Jeff nom.) If/Then (Brown Paper Box Co.); “Pamela”, Head Over Heels (Kokandy Productions); As You Like It (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Christmas at Pemberly (Northlight Theatre). TV: Chicago PD. Always sending love and gratitude to Nathan and my family. Represented by Gray Talent Group. @badamsking www.bridgetadamsking.com

 

WESLY ANTHONY CLERGE+ (Swing/Collins US)
Previously at Porchlight: Appeared in New Faces Sing Broadway 1979

Wesly Anthony Clerge happily returns to Porchlight Music Theatre, where he was last seen in New Faces Sing Broadway 1979.  Recently, he performed as “Sebastian the Crab” in Music Theater Works production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Other previous musical theatre credits include: The Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Guys and Dolls, Once on this Island and In The Heights. He has also performed numerous operatic roles including: Don Giovanni, Gianni Schicchi, Tosca, L’étoile, Les contes d’Hoffmann, Die Fledermaus and many more. You can find out more about Wesly by following him on all social media platforms @IamWeslyAnthony or visiting his website: www.weslyanthonyclerge.com.

 

NAPHTALI CURRY+ (Ensemble/Benny US)
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

Naphtali Curry is a Chicago based actor with a B.F.A in musical theatre from the University of Arizona. He is eager to not only make his Porchlight debut, but also his Chicago debut in this production of Rent. While grinding and working on his acting career, he’s also in the process of creating his own music which he looks forward to releasing soon! He wants to thank his family and friends for all the support. For more content involving his artistic journey, follow him on instagram @thats_nap.

 

LEAH DAVIS* (Ensemble/Joanne US)
Previously at Porchlight: Appeared in In The Heights and New Faces Sing Broadway 1969

Leah Davis is overjoyed to be returning to Porchlight Music Theatre where she was last seen as ‘Carla’ in their Jeff nominated, thrice extended production of In The Heights, as well as in the company of New Faces Sing Broadway 1969. Other Chicago credits include “Bridget” in Lizzie (Firebrand Theatre); “Jeannie” in Hair (Metropolis) and “Fiona” in Shrek: The Musical’ (Point2 Productions). TV: “Wireless” (Quibi) @leah__davis.

 

 

CAITLIN DOBBINS* (Swing)
Previously at Porchlight: Appeared in Pump Boys & Dinettes and Broadway in your Backyard

Caitlin is originally from Tennessee and graduated from Columbia College Chicago in Musical Theatre. Caitlin is represented by Gray Talent Group. Recent Chicago credits are: Notes and Letters (“Nora”) Underscore Theatre; Laced (“Audra U/S”) at About Face Theatre; Fireflies (“Olivia U/S”) at Northlight; Broadway in Your Backyard (vocalist) and Pump Boys & The Dinettes (“Rhetta/Prudie” Swing) at Porchlight Music Theatre; Doll’s House(“Nora” U/S) at Raven’s Theatre; Big Fish (“The Witch) at Boho Theatre; Head Over Heels (“Ensemble/Pamela U/S) at Kokandy Productions; Wife Material(“Luci”) at Underscore Theatre and Beehive The Musical (“Tina Turner/Gina”) at Metropolis Theatre.

 

LUCY GODINEZ* (Maureen Johnson)
Previously at Porchlight: Appeared in In The Heights, Porchlight Revisits 1776 and New Faces Sing Broadway 1969 

Lucy Godínez is ecstatic to be returning to Porchlight where she was previously seen as “Nina” in In The Heights and “Martha Jefferson” in Porchlight’s Revisits 1776. Regional credits include American Mariachi (Goodman Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Cleveland Playhouse) and “Aldonza” in Man Of La Mancha at the Fulton Theater. Other Chicago credits include “Ariel” in Footloose and “Nancy” in Oliver! (Marriott Theatre), Into The Woods (Little Red, Writers Theatre), Legally Blonde (Serena, Paramount Theater), and Hair (Jeannie, Mercury Theater). A graduate of Northwestern University, she is represented by Stewart Talent.

 

NICK JOHNSON+ (Swing/US Angel)
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

Nick Johnson is over the moon to be joining the Porchlight family for the first time. After getting his BFA in Musical Theater at Ball State University, Nick worked at Walt Disney World in Florida and then set sail on Norwegian Cruise Lines in March of 2020. He moved to Chicago in August of 2021, and fell in the theatre scene very quickly. Chicago roles include “Older Billy” in Ragtime and “Chef Louis” in The Little Mermaid at Music Theater Works. He was also an “Electric Skate” in The SpongeBob Musical with Surging Films and Theatrics and played the title role in a newly adapted version of Winnie-the-Pooh with Littlebrain Theatre. Itsnickjohnson.com

 

CHRIS KHOSHABA+ (Ensemble)
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

Chris Khoshaba is grateful to be making his debut with Porchlight Music Theatre. Previous credits include The Tragedy of King Christophe (The House Theatre of Chicago); I Call My Brothers (Interrobang Theatre Project); King Lear (Redtwist Theatre). He has also worked with Erasing the Distance; a documentary style theatre company that “uses the power of performance to disarm stigma, spark dialogue, educate and promote healing surrounding issues of mental health.” Chris is a part of the Medina Theatre Collective, a Chicago based theatre collective dedicated to telling stories based on truth, highlighting the SWANASA (South West Asia, North Africa, South Asia) community.

 

NIK KMIECIK+ (Ensemble/Mark US)
Previously at Porchlight: Appeared in Broadway in your Backyard, Porchlight Revisits Call Me Madam, Porchlight Revisits Minnie’s Boys, Porchlight Revisits Can-Can and New Faces Sing Broadway 1939

Porchlight: Broadway in your Backyard, Chicago Sings Rock and Roll, Chicago Sings Sondheim, “Kenneth” in Porchlight Revisits Call Me Madam, “Chico Marx” in Porchlight Revisits Minnie’s Boys, “Boris” in Porchlight Revisits Can-Can and a 2017 New Faces. Chicago: Once(Paramount Theater), Twelfth Night (Writers Theatre), Love’s Labour’s Lost, Henry V (Chicago Shakespeare), A Christmas Carol (Drury Lane), The Hundred Dresses (Chicago Children’s), Hello Again (Theo Ubique), Pinocchio, Edward Tulane (Filament Theatre) and Skates the Musical (Royal George).

 

TERESSA LAGAMBA* (Joanne Jefferson)
Previously at Porchlight: Appeared in Porchlight Revisits 1776 and New Faces Sing Broadway 1949

Paramount Theatre (Doris, Groundhog Day, Enid Hoops, Legally Blonde, Lovett u/s – Sweeney Todd) Rivendell Theatre (Sam – IWFTYA),  Porchlight Music Theatre (Richard H. Lee- 1776), Boho Theatre (Petra – A Little Night Music, Marie Christine), Marriott Theatre (Emma Goldman u/s – Ragtime), Kokandy Productions (Martha Dunnstock- Heathers, Cinder – Little Fish, Catherine – Tomorrow Morning).  She is a Chicago based actor/musician from Pittsburgh, PA and received her BA in Acting and American Sign Language from Columbia College Chicago.  Represented by Paonessa Talent.  Always, for mom.

 

ERIC LEWIS+ (Tom Collins)
Previously at Porchlight: Appeared in Dreamgirls

Eric A. Lewis is excited to be returning to Porchlight Music Theatre where he was last seen as Jimmy Early in Dreamgirls (Jeff Award). Other credits include Simon/Judas standby in the national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar; Spamilton (Original Chicago Cast); Five Guys Named Moe (Court Theater). Eric would like to thank God and his family for their continued love and support for which he is immensely grateful.

 

DAVID MORELAND+ (Mark Cohen)
Previously at Porchlight: Appeared in New Faces Sing Broadway 1971

David Moreland is thrilled to be making his Porchlight Music Theatre Mainstage debut in RENT, previously in Porchlight’s New Faces Sing Broadway 1971! Past Credits Include: Don’t Dress For Dinner,  “Robert” (Brightside Theatre); Bomber’s Moon,  “Lloyd”; The Elephant Man, “Dr. Frederick Treves” (Williams Street Rep); A Christmas Carol, “Fred/Young Scrooge”; The Mousetrap, “Giles” (Metropolis Performing Arts); Heathers,  “J.D.” (Theater Pops). He can currently be found playing “Sebastian” in Kokandy Productions’ Cruel Intentions: The 90’s Musical now through August 21. Special thank you to all friends and family and, of course, Abby for all their continued support. Enjoy the show!

 

ZIARE PAUL-EMILE* (Swing/Mimi US)
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

Ziare Paul-Emile is beyond grateful to be returning to Porchlight, after their production of Freaky Friday in 2020 was unfortunately cut short. Past credits include: “Bet” in Oliver! (Marriott Theatre), “Young Narrator” in Because (Ravinia Breaking Barriers Series), “Jewel” in How to L0ve (webseries). Proudly represented by Stewart Talent and a graduate of Northwestern University with a bachelor’s degree in Theatre and English. Ziare sends all her love to her family and friends, xoxo. For Nicky.

 

ALIX RHODE* (Mimi Marquez)
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

Alix Rhode is a native Chicagoland artist represented by Gray Talent Group. She graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Credits include: “Maruja” in La Havana Madrid (Teatro Vista/Collaboraction); “Maria/Reconciliation” in OH, COLONIZERS! (Collaboraction); “Maria Elena” in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Maples Repertory Theatre), “Carmela/Mami” in Carmela Full of Wishes (Chicago Children’s Theater), the “Bless the Lord Soloist” in Godspell (Theo Ubique) and most recently “Inez” in Zorro: the Musical (Music Theater Works). Many thanks to her ever-supportive family, friends and amazing agents! Find Alix on all social media @alixrhode and www.alixrhode.com.

 

ABRAHAM SHAW+ (Benjamin Coffin III)
Previously at Porchlight: Appeared in New Faces Sing Broadway 1961

Abraham Shaw is thrilled to be working with Porchlight again as he was part of the digital presentation of New Faces Sing Broadway 1961 last year. He’s ecstatic to make his Chicago theatre debut. Abraham was most recently in the production of Tiny Beautiful Things (Max & Louie Productions). Much love to Mom for her continued support. www.abrahamshaw.com

 

 

JOSH PABLO SZABO+/^ (Angel Dumott Schunard)
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

Josh Pablo Szabo is thrilled to be making their Porchlight Music Theatre debut! Some credits include: Evita (Drury Lane Theater); Cruel Intentions: The 90’s Musical (Kokandy Productions); Ragtime (Music Theater Works); Dex & Abby (Pride Films and Plays) and Hello Again (Theo Ubique). Josh blurs the lines between TV, film and theatre and you may have recently seen them in McDonald’s newest hiring campaign. Josh earned their BFA in Musical Theatre Performance from Columbia College Chicago. Special thanks to their dad and Westley, “your constant support is my fuel!” Follow their journey: @joshpabloszabo. Represented by Shirley Hamilton Inc.

 

TJ TAPP* (Ensemble/Dance Captain)
Previously at Porchlight: Appeared in Porchlight Revisits Do Re Mi

TJ Tapp is a Chicago based dancer, singer, actor and a graduate of Chicago College of Performing Arts, BFA Musical Theatre: Dance. She is so happy to be a part of RENT! Her performance credits include Cruel Intentions (Kokandy Productions); Kiss Me, Kate (Marriott Theatre); Chicago Sings Rock & Roll Broadway, Porchlight Revisits Do Re Mi (Porchlight Music Theatre) and Legally Blonde (Metropolis Performing Arts Centre) Rep. Gray Talent Group @tj.tapp Thanks Ma!

 

BRENNAN URBI^/+ (Ensemble/Roger US)
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

Brennan Urbi Is beyond excited to be working with Porchlight for the FIRST TIME! B just returned from touring King Lear and Twelfth Night (Montana Shakespeare in the Parks). In Chicago, B has appeared in Hundred Days (Kokandy); The Tempest (Oak Park Festival); Belly Up (Jackalope Theatre); Fragmented (Our Perspective); Peter and the Starcatcher (Big Noise Theatre); The Rover, Two Gentlewomen (Lakeside Shakespeare) and Baby with the Bathwater (Eclipse Theatre). B is a 2022 recipient of the Neo-Futurist Artist of Color scholarship and earned a BFA in Acting from the Chicago College of Performing Arts. All the love to my family, friends and mentors; thanks for your endless support. Proudly represented by Paonessa Talent. www.brennanurbi.com

 

SHRAGA WASSERMAN^ (Roger Davis)
Porchlight Music Theatre Debut

Shraga D. Wasserman is honored beyond measure to make their Chicago debut in this role with Porchlight. They earned their MFA in acting at NIU after several wonderful years based in Minneapolis. Favorite credits include: “Moritz” in Spring Awakening (Theatre Cedar Rapids); “Marius” in Les Misérables (TCR); “Peter” in Peter and Alice (Candid Theater Co.); “Paul” in Quilt, A Musical Celebration (MJP Theatrical / Candid NYC) and “Roy Cohn” in Angels in America (NIU). Represented by DDO Artists Agency.


Pronoun Key: + (he/him/his); * (she/her/hers); ^ (they, them, theirs);  = (any with respect)


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Check back for more updates on upcoming videos and photos for Porchlight’s production of RENT! Previews begin October 29.


LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF RENT

RENT ORIGINS

Transcript:

When it opened on Broadway in 1996, RENT was hailed by critics as daring and exhilarating. Beloved by a devoted, ever-growing fanbase, the show spoke powerfully to the spirit of its moment and went on to become one of the most popular, successful and influential musicals of all time. RENT won 4 Tony Awards including Best Musical and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It ran on Broadway for more than 12 years. When it closed in 2008, it had played more than 5,000 performances – making it the seventh-longest running show in Broadway history at the time. In the last 25 years, it has toured the U.S. and Canada multiple times, been produced in 50 countries and translated to 25 languages. In 2005, a feature film adaptation starring members of the original Broadway cast was released by Sony
Pictures, and a live televised version aired in 2019.

RENT was written by Jonathan Larson, a tireless, ambitious composer and lyricist determined to bring something new to the evolution of musical theater, and who tragically did not live to see the massive impact of the show he had poured himself into for years. He died suddenly at 35, from an aortic aneurysm just hours after the final dress rehearsal for the off-Broadway production of RENT. Larson grew up listening to folk music, opera and musical theater. He also loved artists like Billy Joel, Elton John, the Beatles, the Who, Prince and Kurt Cobain. He attended Adelphi University with plans to focus on acting, but gravitated toward writing – which would become his focus for the rest of his life. After college, Larson moved to Manhattan, where he lived in a shabby fifth-floor walkup on the edges of the West Village and SoHo. He worked part-time at the Moondance Diner for more than nine years to support himself while he wrote musicals. This time in Larson’s life, and his work on Superbia – an unproduced futuristic musical inspired by the novel 1984 – is depicted in tick, tick… BOOM!, a musical adapted from Larson’s one-man show, a film version of which was released in 2021.

Larson had a vision for what a modern musical could be. He wanted to bridge the gap between musical theater and contemporary popular music – to write shows reverent to the traditions of musical theater, but also politically engaged and that could bring together the visceral ethos of rock with the lyrical focus on storytelling that’s vital to the theater. He was known to earnestly tell new acquaintances that he was the future of the American musical.

Larson was influenced by shows like Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar, as well as the work of Stephen Sondheim. But what he envisioned hadn’t been done in years; megamusical spectacle dominated and although there were shows that used rock and pop music being produced, they stemmed from concept albums by popular musicians or borrowed from other periods, like Dreamgirls and Little Shop of Horrors. Larson believed it was time for a change – for a musical to speak to (and in the musical language of) his generation.

RENT takes place in Alphabet City, a part of New York’s East Village. When Larson was writing in the ‘80s and ‘90s, New York was in the midst of multiple crises. Economic decline in the ‘70s had caused decreased commerce and cuts in public services, leaving many neighborhoods in disrepair. Amid financial difficulties, buildings were foreclosed on and abandoned. The city saw increases in homelessness and drug use, and some of the highest crime rates in its history. The AIDS crisis was tearing through the city, devastating communities.

While the East Village was struggling at this time, it was also home to a vibrant community of progressive artists and activists. It was central in the fight to preserve affordable housing and the locus of movement of squatters who sought to reclaim and rehabilitate their neighborhoods. Visual artists contributed socially engaged, politically charged work to these causes and community interest groups.
Downtown Manhattan was the birthplace of AIDS activist organizations like ACT UP, and a hub for offbeat creative communities: performance artists – like those who inspired the number “Over the Moon” – punk and grunge musicians like Roger, and a dynamic burgeoning drag scene. Larson was writing in response to the world around him, capturing a generation living through difficult times in a community surrounded by strife – but who found joy, hope and love amid fear and pain.

RENT INFLUENCES

Transcript:

RENT is based on La Bohėme, an opera about a community of artists living in poverty amid disease in Paris in the 1830s. In 1989, Jonathan Larson was approached by playwright Billy Aronson about collaborating on a modern adaptation of the opera. Both writers saw similarities between their surroundings in New York and the conditions faced by the characters in La Bohėme. The collaboration with Aronson fizzled out, but Larson later chose to move forward with RENT on his own. He was inspired by the spirit of the East Village community, and also drew on experiences from his own life. Larson saw himself and his friends – a community of artists making their way through challenging times – reflected in the characters in La Bohėme and there are aspects of RENT that were personal to him.

Larson, like some of his characters, made sacrifices in his lifestyle to pursue his dream. He cobbled together part-time work to support himself but he still struggled financially. Fostering a close-knit community like the one depicted in RENT was important to him: he and his roommate had a tradition called the Peasant Feast, a holiday-season potluck featuring impromptu performances shared among friends and neighbors. The night before rehearsals for the original production of RENT began, Larson hosted a Peasant Feast for the cast, noting in his speech that the show reflected parts of his life and people in it. Although tick, tick…BOOM! is the most autobiographical of Larson’s works, several moments in RENT come directly from Larson’s life.

Larson and his roommate had an illegal wood burning stove – like the one Mark and Roger have – that they used when their building had no heat. Their door buzzer did not work, so like in the opening number, visitors had to call and have a key dropped down to the street. The Life Cafe, where the Act One finale takes place, was an East Village institution from 1981 until its closure in 2011. Larson visited the cafe from time to time and as RENT gained popularity, it became a treasured destination for fans of the show. In 2008, a few days ahead of RENT’s final performance on Broadway, the cafe’s owner unveiled a bench dedicated to Larson, surrounded by tributes to his memory and the impacts of the show.

A major reason that Larson continued to work on RENT was the impact of the AIDS crisis on his community. When he was writing, AIDS was one of the leading causes of death among young people in New York and the city accounted for nearly 20% of the country’s cases. The epidemic was hitting New York’s arts communities particularly hard, and touched Larson’s life directly in several ways.

In the mid-1980s, Larson’s childhood best friend told him that he was HIV positive. Later, three more friends were diagnosed and by the time RENT went into rehearsals, all three had died. Their names (Gordon, Ali, and Pam) appear in the libretto during the support group scene, however actors are offered the option to substitute names of their own friends lost to the disease if they so choose.

Larson accompanied his friend to meetings at Friends in Deed, an organization that offered counseling, workshops, and other services to people with HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. The principles that Larson was exposed to at Friends In Deed deeply influenced the ideas that make up the heartbeat of RENT. Counseling at Friends In Deed focused on helping people cope with fear, find hope and live full lives. The support group scene is modeled after a Friends In Deed meeting and you’ll see its philosophies in lyrics throughout the show – including the very concept of “no day but today.” They are woven into Larson’s deliberate choice to create a show about focusing on love and celebrating life. Like Mark, Larson sought to document and memorialize his community. In capturing what was important to him, he would also create his own legacy in the New York theater community and beyond.

After transferring to Broadway, RENT became a cultural phenomenon and established Larson as one of the most important voices in American musical theater. RENT influenced hit shows like Spring Awakening, In The Heights and Hamilton. A grant supporting early career musical theater writers was established in Larson’s memory. Awardees include the writers of Dear Evan Hansen and Be More Chill. Larson’s work ushered in the future he had wanted for Broadway.

PORCHLIGHT’S RENT

Transcript:

RENT was created with inspiration from Jonathan Larson’s observations of the world around him and his own personal experiences. In the same way that Larson recognized parallels between the world he was living in and challenges that Pucchini wrote about in La Bohème, his writing sustains its power for modern audiences a quarter of a century on. The timelessness of Larson’s genius and his capacity to capture an ethos both of his moment and universal drove Porchlight’s decision to produce RENT this year. Our production aims to highlight things that Larson was passionate about platforming in his work and that maintain relationships to the battles we are still fighting today.

Larson wanted his work to raise awareness of social justice issues. Our production seeks to capture the political energy that he infused into RENT by setting it in 1991 and 1992, inclusive of the presidential election in which Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush’s bid for a second term. RENT’s characters are committed to their beliefs, and you will see the activist spirit of their community in elements of our production’s design. For example, several of our creative team’s choices are meant to invoke the AIDS ribbon, a symbol of support and awareness that was introduced in 1991. You may notice the significance of red, as well as the shape of the ribbon itself in some elements of the design. You may also spot references to activist causes that were significant to Larson and his community on the set.

Another central factor in director Adrian Abel Azevedo’s decision to set Porchlight’s production in 1991 and 1992 is the enormous shadow the AIDS crisis casts over RENT’s story. It was important to Larson to show that the impact of AIDS was not confined only to certain communities but that its reach was sprawling and it affected everyone. Our production begins in the year that the CDC reported a grim milestone – an estimated total of 1 million HIV infections and warned that in the next two years as many as 200,000 of those people were expected to die – and at a time where AZT was at its most widely used. You will see several representations of AIDS in the visual language of our production, including a reference to the AIDS Memorial Quilt, alluded to on stage in the spirit of Larson’s devotion to commemorating and celebrating his loved ones through his creativity.

It was important to Adrian to present a version of RENT that is grounded in the world Larson was writing in. After focusing on other projects following the end of his collaboration with Billy Aronson on RENT, Larson picked the show back up again in 1991 and pitched it to the New York Theatre Workshop — where it was developed and first produced — in 1992. By drawing from the period in which the show as we know it today began to take shape, our production acknowledges that Larson was living in and affected by the world you will be seeing on stage.

To honor this, elements of our design also express themes that were fundamental to Larson. For example, parts of the set are inspired by the idea of an artist documenting his life and the things he cares about, creating a record of meaningful moments and memories. The presence of particular colors in some characters’ costumes, and the ways in which they evolve as time passes throughout the show, signify not only illness progressing but also love and life – three themes inextricably bound in RENT’s message. Our creative team also drew inspiration from spaces of unexpected greenery – like the East Village’s community gardens – amid the harsh industrial structures of New York City. These spaces conjured parallels to the resilience of life despite hardship, a central element of the story told in RENT.

In the 26 years since RENT ignited a new era of musical theater, its incredible ability to connect with audiences far and wide has solidified its place in history. Larson’s skill for capturing his world and his feelings in a story and songs that continue to resonate remind us that great art like his needs to be revisited again and again – and can be approached in fresh ways. As we live through events today that echo the past – a pandemic, battles for healthcare and reproductive rights – our production offers a new – and distinctly Porchlight – approach to the show. Whether you’re a seasoned RENT-head, revisiting the show after a long time, or encountering it for the first time, Porchlight’s production invites you to embrace Larson’s message of measuring life in love even in the hardest times and its meaning in our modern world.


CRITICS ARE RAVING ABOUT RENT!


AUDIENCES REACT TO RENT


CATCH THE CAST OF RENT ON WGN’S AROUND TOWN


INTERVIEWS WITH THE COMPANY OF RENT


MEET THE CAST & CREATIVE TEAM OF RENT


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