top of page
Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • Twitter Basic Black
  • Facebook Basic Black
  • Google+ Basic Black

  Brisbane review – Rent: a sensational night at the theatre

By Douglas Kennedy


Rent the musical.

Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson.

Directed by Shaun Rennie

Musical director Andrew Warboys. Choreography by Luca Dinardo

The Playhouse, QPAC

Bookings: or phone 136 246. Groups 10+ call ( 07) 3840 7466. Playing until February 11. Running time two hours 35 min including interval

The award-wining 1990s rock musical Rent, set in the seamy, sensual tenements of New York’s East Village is back with a mega punch.

Jonathan Larson’s celebration of the weird and wonderful characters who populate the underbelly of this turbulent city is now playing QPAC’s Playhouse Theatre, Brisbane, as part of a whirlwind national tour.

While some aspects of the narrative may seem a little dated the electric performances and high-powered musical menu sustains the musical’s original magic.

This high energy production features a wealth of contemporary talent, which brought the opening night audience to its feet with howls of approval.

Rent, which draws its inspiration from Puccini’s 1896 opera, La boheme, burst on to the Broadway stage back in January 1996.

Larson, who had been developing his show with themes of multiculturalism, substance abuse and homophobia for several years, died the night his show opened, aged 35.

While Puccini’s La Boheme focused on the bohemian set in 19th century Paris, where poverty-stricken misfits were under threat from tuberculosis, Larson’s impoverished young artists in Lower Manhattan live and die under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

A complex web of fragile relationships is woven around a host of characters including flat mates Mark (Noah Mullins), a struggling documentary filmmaker and his best friend Roger (Jerrod Smith), an HIV-positive musician recovering from heroin addiction.

Then there’s Mark’s ex-girlfriend, spirited performance artist Maureen (Calista Nelmes) who is now in a relationship with head-strong Harvard- educated lawyer Joanne (Thndo).

Rounding out this cast of complex characters are drag queen, gender fluid, drug addict and HIV-positive Angel (Carl De Villa), anarchist and philosophy teacher Tom Collins (Nick Afoa) and the tenant’s landlord Benny (Tana Laga’aia).

Rent, a story of friendship, dreams the power of love, has been described as a celebration of love, life and the human spirit.

The story opens on Christmas Eve when landlord Benny, a former tenant, announces his plan to evict the homeless from a lot where he plans to build a cyber arts studio.

In the coming year plans are made and abandoned, relationships formed and tested as our struggling artists deal with life and morality.

The story is brought to life with somewhere between 30 and 40 amazing songs, including the iconic Seasons of Love.

The creatives - director Shaun Rennie, music director Andrew Worboys and choreographer Luca Dinardo - bring the large ensemble together with consummate skill and the live band is just the cherry on the cake.

Rent, a dazzling tour de force, makes for a sensational night at the theatre thanks largely to a wonderfully energetic cast.

Incidentally back in the ‘90s Rent, which ran on Broadway for 12 years, won a swag of awards including a Tony for best musical.

Larson received four posthumous awards, three Tonys and a Pulitzer Prize for drama and the production grossed more than $280 million.






bottom of page