By Jonathan Larson. BuST Co (Vic). Director: Rhylee Nowell. Musical Director: Kevin Nguyen Choreographer: Emma Vaiano. Cromwell Road Theatre. August 24 to September 1, 2012

I remember the Whitehorse production of Rent in the 1,000 seat Besen Centre and being swept away by the music with little understanding of what was going on as few words came across. In the 120 seat Cromwell Road Theatre the band was again a bit loud, but the sound was much better, which made it much easier to follow what was going on.

In an old church hall, raked seating has been built to convert it to a theatre, and the performers were on a flat stage with a couch on a raised area on one side and the band under scaffolding on the other. Tables and chairs were brought on and off as scenes changed.

With the audience so close, the performers were very exposed, but this did not faze them. Many had had professional experience and it showed. The voices were powerful and the acting strong. Some were also exceptional dancers.

The choreography in the crowd scenes was exciting  and well coordinated. Matt Bond played an excellent Mark, who narrated much of the show. Robbie Medica and Hilary Cole as the young lovers beautifully captured the sexual tension of the on again-off again relationship of Roger and Mimi. Mark Stefanoff was amazing as the drag queen and Simon Hedt strong as his lover Collins.

If you don’t have sensitive ears, this is a show not to be missed.

Graham Ford

Link to earlier coverage

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