The Premier Centre of the Arts’ Black Box Theatre has been transformed into New York’s Bohemian East Village as the story of seven friends and their struggles with AIDS, drugs and sexuality plays out on the theatre’s stage. The hit Broadway musical that’s captivated audiences throughout the country comes to Middletown as “RENT: School Edition” and runs through Nov. 8.


    The Premier Centre of the Arts’ Black Box Theatre has been transformed into New York’s Bohemian East Village as the story of seven friends and their struggles with AIDS, drugs and sexuality plays out on the theatre’s stage. The hit Broadway musical that’s captivated audiences throughout the country comes to Middletown as “RENT: School Edition” and runs through Nov. 8.
    The vocals are strong, the passion is sheer and the emotion is soaring, as student actors and performers take on the roles of a group of friends living impoverished lives on the lower east side of New York.
    Executive Director Fred Munzert said the classic musical “RENT,” created by Jonathan Larson, is a powerful and exciting show.
    “It’s very relevant to people my age because I lived during that time, and to the young people it’s still been relevant,” he said. “It has such a strong fan following. It was a natural show for us to do.”
    Munzert said this is the first time in Delaware the show has been performed by non-equity performers.
    He said certain scenes are cut in the school edition, but the content and messages from the original are all still there.
    “It deals very, very candidly and in a very poignant way with AIDS, suicide, drugs and same-sex relationships,” Munzert said. “The cast is just flawless. Everyone of them is just so strong in their role.”
    He said the cast had an instant chemistry from the moment they auditioned.
    “We had them sing ‘Seasons of Love,’ the iconic song from the show, and it was as if they had already been singing on Broadway together,” Munzert said. “It was so powerful and so strong. The staff knew this was something that was going to be memorable.”
    He said audience members who haven’t been to the show yet should expect especially high energy at the end of the first act when the cast sings “La Vie Boheme.”
    “It’s high energy and loud,” Munzert said. “We also have a live band playing with them, so that adds to the energy in the room and the excitement of what’s going on in the show.”
    Chad Jervis, who plays Mark in the show, said he was eager to take part in the musical, because it’s such a new experience for him.
    “This show is very expressive and emotional,” he said. “You don’t usually see that much emotion in a student production.”
    Natasha Michael, who plays Mimi, attends Cab Calloway School of Arts and has been performing since she was 9 years old.
    Natasha said she is used to playing very conservative characters. But Mimi, who is a stripper, certainly is not.
    “I’m definitely out of my comfort zone,” she said, “but it’s so much fun.”
   
EVENT INFO
WHAT “RENT: School Edition”
WHERE Premier Center for the Arts, 27 Anderson St., Middletown
WHEN Oct. 22 through Sunday, Nov. 8, Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
TICKETS cost $15 for adults, $12 for students.
FOR MORE INFORMATION call 378-1384 or go to www.pca-de.com.