Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Feb 01st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

‘RENT’ Rises to the Occasion

AE_theatreNew local theater company debuts popular play
A group of young thespians brings death, disease, poverty, and sexual taboo to Santa Cruz at the end of April via their debut performance of the film and Broadway sensation, “RENT.”

“RENT” flutters into town on the wings of Phoenix Rising, a nascent theater group branching off of the local Kids on Broadway children’s theater group. The group was created to give young adults a space to perform that was attached to Kids on Broadway but branched away from the label of “children’s theater.” “RENT,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning rock opera written by Jonathan Larson and based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera “La Boheme,” is littered with inarguably deep, heavy, adult, and mature content. The plot outlines one year in the life of a group of young bohemians struggling with love, loss, and AIDS in modern day New York.

Daria Troxell, the play’s director, urges that although the play’s content may be mature for such a young cast to tackle, its overlying themes of love and tolerance make it into a constructive influence for the young adults.

“At the heart of ‘RENT’ is the idea that no matter what cards you are dealt, you make the most of your life,” says Troxell. “It’s this concept of love and acceptance regardless of who you are, what you are, what sexual orientation you are, whether you have a disease or don’t.”

After more than two years’ effort, the local Kids on Broadway (KOB) childrens’ theater group has obtained the rights to the popular script. The performance will take place at Studio E Santa Cruz, across from Costco and near the local Tannery Arts buildings—a fitting setting for the play’s bohemian cityscape ambiance. The show will run from April 30-May 9.

As she directs emerging young thespians aged 15-24 through the risqué subject matter, Troxell will inadvertently test the capacity for open-mindedness in the local community. Troxell says she does not know how the community will respond to such a young group performing the show. She has read several stories online about controversy over the showing of RENT in other communities, and says she hopes that there is enough love and compassion in the Santa Cruz community to embrace the piece.

Troxell says she realizes that some of the content can be uncomfortable to take in at first, especially for younger performers. She mentions that during casting for the play, some of the young actors felt uncomfortable playing homosexual roles, so they were not expected to do so.

“My hope is that by working on this piece [the young actors] become more loving and accepting of other people—that’s what art can do for us. It teaches us to love and accept others despite our differences, because we are all people,” says Troxell with an affirmative chuckle. “We're all people. We're all blood, bone, skin, tissue, organ.”

From the first day of rehearsals, Troxell says the cast has kept an open dialogue about the heavy adult content of the script. She says the cast has been more than adequately mature about dealing with the content.

During a rehearsal, choreographer Ronnie Childers leads the cast in dance choreography of some of the play’s more racy songs. Boys straddle one another, actors are dragged across the stage in what Childers refers to as “sex-slave” fashion, and the pelvic thrusts are boundless.

Kelsey Kulbarsh is a 17-year-old local who will play a lesbian character named Maurine. As she rehearses choreography with the rest of the group, she is required to climb on top of another girl in an overtly sexual movement.

“I think audiences’ jaws are going to drop when they see the choreography,” says Kulbarsh. “I think they’re gonna be really shocked at the content, but the music and everything ties it together and by the end they’ll be really surprised. They’ll like it for sure once they get past the provocative part of it. The message of the play is to stick up for what you believe in, for sure.”

Despite rather raunchy dance content, the young cast is mature and professional in demeanor. During rehearsal when they are not on stage, actors sit quietly on the carpet working to memorize their lines.

“We have actors in the show who are young adults, just coming into that phase of life where they're taking more responsibility and seeing life through a more independent lens,” Troxell says. “This age group is able to work on a more intellectual and emotional level, they have more of that access than some of the younger actors. The play deals with issues that are important, I think, for young adults to realize … to really be loved by someone despite the fact that they're HIV positive, despite their disease, that’s a serious message. The characters could take the news of disease like the gloom and doom that their life is over, but [they] just don’t behave that way in their lives.”

Holding back tears, Troxell recalls the moment in the play that most moves her. In the scene near the play’s close, the eulogy at the funeral of a cross dresser and kind soul named Angel brings the characters together in a stirring reprise. As their voices coalesce in singing, “I’ll Cover You,” the group comes to terms with what it means to fully love somebody.

“That common moment of honoring and recognizing that they really loved Angel, and that Angel was the foundation that all of their love was built on—it’s a critical moment within the piece,” says Troxell. "At this point in my life [the scene] speaks to me because I am somebody who has lost, in terms of personal relationships. I think I now have a greater appreciation for honoring those relationships when you have them, and not taking them for granted.”


“RENT” runs April 30 through May 9 at 151-E Harvey West Blvd., Studio, Santa Cruz, 425-3455. Tickets can be purchased online at phoenixrisingtheatre.org. Tickets are $20 reserved, $15 adults general admission, and $10 for students and seniors 55 and over. This show contains mature content and parental discretion is strongly advised.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Throwing It All Away

Everybody’s for recycling, right? So why are we all doing it wrong? Our reporter gets down and dirty to uncover 10 secrets that will finally make the recycling process make sense

 

Aquarius Calling, Humanity Rising

Aquarius (11th sign after Aries) is the sign of service—serving one another, building community. Aquarius is fixed air, stabilizing new ideas in the world. When new ideas reach the masses the ideas become ideals within the hearts and minds of humanity. Air signs (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) are mental. They think, ponder, study, research, gather and distribute information. For air signs, education and learning, communicating, writing, being social, tending to money, participating in groups and creating sustainable communities are most important. One of the present messages Aquarius is putting forth to the New Group of World Servers is the creation of the New Education (thus thinking) for humanity—one based not on commodities (banking/corporate values) but on virtues. Humanity and Aquarius Aquarius is the sign of humanity itself. We are now at the beginnings of the Age of Aquarius, the Age of Humanity (rising). The “rising” is the Aquarian vision of equality, unity, the distribution and sharing of all resources and of individual (Leo) creative gifts for the purpose of humanity’s (Aquarius) uplifting. This is the message in the Solar Festival of Aquarius (at the full moon) on Tuesday, Feb. 3. We join in these visions by reciting the World Prayer of Direction, the Great Invocation.Tuesday’s solar festival follows Monday’s Groundhog Day, or Imbolc (ancient Celtic fire festival) the halfway mark between winter solstice and spring Equinox). The New Group of World Servers (NGWS) during these two days are preparing for the upcoming Three Spring Solar Festivals: 1. Aries Resurrection/Easter Festival (April); 2. Taurus Buddha/Wesak Festival (May); and 3. Gemini’s Festival of Humanity (June). Aquarius and the new and full moons together are the primary astrological influences behind all of humanity’s endeavors. The NGWS are to teach these things, calling and uplifting humanity. Join us everyone. (301)

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Job Insecurity

Woman fights for her job in thoughtful, life-sized ‘Two Days One Night’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Jeffrey’s Restaurant

Why quick and friendly service matters at a local diner.

 

If you didn't live in Santa Cruz, where would you be living?

I would live in Kauai because the water is warmer, and I just love it there. Maureen Niehaus, Santa Cruz, Dental Assistant

 

Clos LaChance Wines

Pinot Noir 2012

 

Striking Gold

A taste of Soquel Vineyards’ five gold medal-winning Pinots