Rent cast prepares to celebrate 20 years

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The cast rehearsing Rent

The cast rehearsing Rent

The cast of Rent has been at the Wired Aerial Theatre in Liverpool putting the finishing touches to their UK concert tour to celebrate the musical’s 20th anniversary, and JMU Journalism got a sneak preview.

Highly-acclaimed West End star Kerry Ellis and ITV’s Superstar runner-up Rory Taylor lead the cast in the roles of Mimi and Roger.

The show, which features ex-Brookside actor Leon Lopez as Collins and fellow Liverpudlians Kenny Thompson and Nikki Davis-Jones as Benny and Maureen, comes to Liverpool’s Echo Arena this weekend.

Heswall-born Rory told JMU Journalism: “It’s going to be really cool to do something different in my hometown, as I’ve done lots of gigs here before. It’s going to be really nice to show my local friends and family what I do, as they don’t always get to come down to London to see my shows there.”

Written by Jonathan Larson, Rent tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side, in the shadow of HIV and AIDS. The rock musical, which won a Tony Award for Best Musical, was adapted into a film in 2005.

Kerry Ellis and Rory Taylor talking to JMU Journalism

Kerry Ellis and Rory Taylor talking to JMU Journalism

Kerry told JMU Journalism: “I remember seeing the show the first time it was in London, and I’ve seen it on Broadway. I chose to perform in it because it’s something I’ve never done. The music is great. It’s 20 years’ old now, but it doesn’t seem to date.”

Rory admitted to JMU Journalism that he had never heard of Rent before when he got the call offering him a role if he wanted to do it.

He said: “I asked a few friends and they all told me  to not turn down an offer like this, so I went away and listened to the music, and thought it was perfect for me. It’s a character I can relate to, so I’m happy to be doing it.”

With the original and most famous charcter of Mimi played by a Hispanic 19-year-old, Kerry is not the typical choice for the part, however that’s what she thinks is good about the concert.

She said: “We’re bringing our own personality to it, and trying to look at it as a new show with fresh ideas. We obviously all know the original show, and we’re listening to the outline, but it’s coming in and putting your own stamp on it.”

Rent’s 20th Anniversary Concert is on at the Echo Arena on 27th April.

About Hayley Minn, JMU Journalism