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Kudzu Playhouse1
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Rent, by Jonathan Larson
Rent - small stage, BIG talent
Monday, March 1, 2010
4.5
The musical started off with a few sound issues that made the first few songs hard to enjoy. But after they corrected the mic levels, it has very hard not to get sucked into this production. The cast is so talented and it is clear they are deserving of a much larger stage - nothing against the Kudzu Playhouse.

The first few songs (Tune Up, Rent, and You Okay Honey) were hard to get in to because of the sound issues. By the time they get to 'One Song Glory', the sound issues were completely forgotten and all the focus was on Roger's (played by Justin Miskin) amazing voice. Some in the audience were criticizing the choice of Miskin to play Roger when he first walked out on stage, but they were shocked into silence once he began singing. By the time the Company began to so skillfully perform 'Life Support', the audience was completely sucked into this story. But 'Life Support' was only a taste of just how great of a job this cast can so perfectly convey the emotions of facing your eventual death at the hands of HIV. Soon after, the audience was again given just a taste of greatness as Mimi (played by Takara Clark) showed her power over the emotions of the audience with her performance of 'Another Day'. Near the end of the first Act, we were treated with a full frontal assault of true awesomeness that is Maureen (played by Emily Sams). The audience erupted in applause and cheering after the best ever performance of 'Over the Moon'. It was a welcomed, light-hearted break from the heavy story. Act 1 ended with an excellent, heart warming, and crowd moving duet by Roger and Mimi of 'I Should Tell You'.

The 2nd Act began with an amazing performance by the Company of 'Seasons of Love' that was nothing less then powerful. Maureen and Joanne (played by Ardale Shepherd) gave a real crowd pleasing performance of 'Take Me or Leave Me' that had most of the audience moving to the beat in their seats. This was followed by the most emotionally moving song of the night - Mimi singing 'Without You'. Looking around the audience, there were very few dry eyes, as Mimi pulled the crowd completely into her heart and did not let go. From that point on, the audience sniffled and cried through the rest of this amazing production. Hard sobbing could be heard in the audience during Collins' (played by Spencer Stephens) performance of 'I'll Cover You: Reprise'. This song was delivered with such beautiful, heart-wrenching pain that it is hard to even write about without tearing up. Act 2 ends with a happy silliness that is much needed.

Walking out of this production, it was clear that despite the small theater (I love Kudzu, but it is tiny), and early sound issues, this cast delivered an amazing performance of Rent that would not be out of place on Broadway.

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