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Herald staff | tgoffredo@heraldnet.com
Published: Monday, July 30, 2012, 2:10 p.m.

The 5th Avenue's "Rent" is as good as it gets

I've seen “Rent” twice now -- once in New York years ago and just recently at the 5th Avenue Theatre.

I can't quite put my finger on it but even after two times, I cannot bring myself to like this show.

It's a Pulitzer Prize winner and Tony Award winner for Best Musical.

I know. What's wrong with me right?

As with any art, I just think it comes down to a matter of personal taste. For me, this show has a messy plot, some cacophonous songs and is at the end of the day, a bummer about drug addiction and AIDS that composer and playwright Jonathan Larson tried to wrap up into a happy tale about making the most of the moment (though your moment might be over at age 30).

(Larson died suddenly the night before “Rent's” off-Broadway premiere.)

That all said, the 5th Avenue Theatre's production was as sturdy as city scaffolding. It was as good as this show is gonna get.

The cast of extremely talented actors poured their sweat and soul into their performance, presenting it as the youth anthem it was written to be.

And certainly seeing “Rent” should be one of those rites of passage for all youth, up there with reading “Peter Pan,” playing air guitar in the bedroom to Queen's “We Will Rock You” and cautiously sipping that first martini.

There's a lot of message in “Rent” as this alternative band of vulnerable yet idealistic characters struggle with love, disease, their identities, their careers and, of course, making the money to pay rent.

If you are not a youth, “Rent” is as topical now as it was in 1996 when it opened on Broadway and can give you lots to talk about during parties. Recently, there have been news stories about a cure for AIDS being within reach in the next five years.

If you are just someone who likes to watch talent on stage, then there's another and another and another good reason to see “Rent.”

Standouts include drag queen “Angel,” played magnificently by Jerick Hoffer who was simultaneously touching and hilarious, at one point dressed up looking like a fantastic Christmas elf.

Daniel Berryman did us a solid as one of the shows anchors, Mark Cohen, an aspiring filmmaker. His roommate Roger Davis is the versatile Aaron Finley who has made several stunning appearances with Village Theatre including “Jesus Christ Superstar." Davis' love interest Mimi was played by petite sultress Naomi Morgan. Andi Alhadeff as Joanne was superb; her lesbian lover Maureen, played by Ryah Nixon was va-va-voom in the number “Over the Moon.” Brandon O'Neill delivered a heart-melting version of “I'll Cover You” as Tom Collins.

And true confession time, though I'm not a fan of “Rent” it was beyond my control not to be moved when the company delivered “Rent's” beautiful iconic song “Seasons of Love.”

“Rent” runs at various times through Aug. 19, The 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave., Seattle. Tickets start at $29. Call 206-625-1900 or go to The 5th Avenue\.
Story tags » Arts, Culture & EntertainmentTheater

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