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Fabrefaction Theater Company1
Average Rating Given : 2.50000
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REVIEWS

RENT, by
RENT - Professional theatre???
Friday, December 24, 2010
2.5
Fabrefaction's production of RENT would be considered a decent show at any local community theatre, however, for a theatre passing itself off as "professional," RENT truly misses its mark.

Number 1 issue: Sound. The singers have absolutely no support because the band is so quiet and sparse that the usual "rock" sound that is synonymous is non-existent. As soon as Mark says "The power blows," we want to be just inundated with the rock anthem that happens to be the title of the show. It doesn't matter how hard the cast is selling their angst if the band isn't there to back it up. The WAY too quiet band led to lots of times when singers were singing in completely different tempos that what we in the audience were hearing. It truly makes an audience uncomfortable to hear songs in which the band and the singers are performing completely independently. This may also be the cause of the array of pitch issues that flooded the show. Also, mics needed some serious work. Most of the time, the audience couldn't hear the first 2 measures of EVERY line because the person's mic was turned on late. Very reminiscent of community theatre.

The cast:
The obvious standout in the cast is Doront'e Evans as Tom Collins. He is a head and shoulders above his castmates in terms of vocal chops and acting ability. His beautiful voice and natural acting were such a breath of fresh air, especially in contrast to the "Hey look, I'm acting!" performance by Trey Getz as Mark. In my opinion, Doront'e is in a different league than the rest of the cast, as he is really the only person on the stage who is completely believable and natural.

The other standout as far as vocal ability is Lindsey Dartsch as Mimi. I didn't fully believe the confident, sexy, young woman aspect of her character, but her voice is beautiful! She is one of the few truly great singers in the cast. Her rendition of "Without You" was beautiful and engaging (an often difficult task with such a repetitive song.)

James Allen McCune as Roger comes across as lazy. He seems to be just walking through the show. He actually had some great vocal moments throughout the show, but a lot of the time he just comes across as vocally and physically lazy (except for the odd jerking movements during "One Song Glory," which could be a directing issue.) Another actor that comes across as lazy is Lex Mattox as Benny. I don't know if these two actors were going for "laid-back," but a lot of times their performances just came across as "bored."

Paige Mattox as Maureen seems a little out of her element. Some of the high belting was just out of her range and we were treated to some odd vocal cracks and an almost cringe-worthy ending to "Take Me or Leave Me." *A note to the music director: The audience would rather hear a well placed, abeit, weaker sounding head voice as opposed to a pinched, strained, belt. "Take Me or Leave Me" turned into a very unpleasant scream-fest by the end of the piece. Sometimes it's okay to cop-out and use a mix of head voice. The audience may feel let down, but at least they won't be wincing.

Imani Johnson, Trey Getz, and Wade Lowman are all good in their respective roles. They all have pleasant stage presences and good voices. Ms. Johnson and Mr. Getz had good chemistry during the "Tango Maureen" and the relationship between Collins and Angel was particularly touching.

The ensemble was good. Most had very good voices, I just wish I could've seen more cohesiveness between all the cast. I didn't get the sense of true community. A few generic arms around each other does not convey family.

The music:
First of all, I have to say, it was a little odd to watch the start of Act Two and see some random man standing center stage with a handheld mic singing the "Seasons of Love" solo. It would have been nice if the audience had at least some kind of information as to why some random person joined the cast for one song. I found out later that he had performed on tour with RENT, but it was little odd to just place him in the show (especially when, in my opinion, he wasn't that good.) I'm sure one of the male ensemble members could've sung the solo much better.

The performance I saw was littered with pitch and tempo issues. I don't know if this is a case of performers not listening to each other, or the band, or both. For the most part, solos stayed in tune, but anytime any sort of harmony happened (especially in ensemble songs), the tuning went out the window. This was especially noticeable in all the different performances of "Christmas Bells" (although as the show progressed it actually got better, but the first one was completely out of tune.) Other blatant issues with tuning occurred during "Take Me or Leave Me," "What You Own," and the section at the end of the show when Collins rewires the ATM.

I hope this review doesn't come across as harsh, I just think a company that calls itself professional, should raise the bar a little all around. Fabrefaction has a great space, but right now they can in no way measure up to other theatres around town.

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