I need to apologize because I did not take any pictures when I was in NYC this past week. Shame on me. It simply never occurred to me to take my camera out of the camera bag.
Our show @ CMJ in NYC went extremely well, following a GREAT show at the Social in Orlando, FL. The venue—Fontana’s—isn’t exactly in the most attractive part of town—unceremoniously sandwiched between Chinatown and the Lower East Side. However, the venue itself was pretty cool, and surprisingly busy for a Tuesday night.
Because I’m me, I need to give my theatre review;) I apologize in advance if this seems overly-critical, but I take my theatre seriously!:D
I decided to go see RENT on Monday night. I went to the red Tkts office in South Street Seaport to see if there were any 50% off tickets available. By the time I got to the office, the only tickets available were for RENT or Chicago. I really wanted to see Lea Salonga perform in Les Miserables, but unfortunately that show is dark on Mondays, the only possible day I could have seen a show.
The leads of this RENT cast (for the roles of Mark, Roger and Mimi) definitely weren’t as strong as the previous show I had seen last summer, when Matt Caplan, Tim Howar and Antonique Smith filled those roles. The other actors (for the roles of Collins, Joanne and Angel) however were phenomenal. They each brought humor and likeability to the roles that I hadn’t seen before. Unfortunately, I felt pretty neutral about Maureen—typically my favorite character! Her voice was kind of annoying, as opposed to Maggie Benjamin and Haven Burton, the only other Maureen’s I’ve seen live. Her performance of Over the Moon was probably the most unique I’ve ever seen though, so I have to give her kudos for that.
I realized the difference—the last time I saw RENT in NYC, it was Matt Caplan’s last night playing Mark. So the crowd was full of Matt Caplan fans, and there was an electricity in the air the moment Roger (played by Tim Howar) stepped foot onstage to tune that famous guitar, and Matt injected some extra energy and “last hurrah” into his performance. His humor and weird, screwball energy and intelligence just brought so much to the role. I don’t think I ever truly appreciated the role of Mark until I saw Matt Caplan play him. (side note, if you pay attention, Matt Caplan is one of Jude and Max’s buddies in the “With a Little Help From My Friends” sequence in Across the Universe)
I couldn’t help but compare this Mimi actress to Antonique Smith, my favorite Mimi to date. Antonique’s vocals blew me away, especially in Another Day and Goodbye Love. Her voice was raw, emotional and expressive. Her interpretive ability and emotional range is incredible. I saw Antonique perform once and I still remember how amazing her voice is. The Mimi actress I saw this past week sounded too trained and she didn’t seem to portray the vulnerability of Mimi. Even her Out Tonight dance kind of bothered me. I always saw Mimi as being sweet and sexy with a hint of a fun and wild side, without being dirty, and this actress seemed to skip sweet and move right on to dirty which I didn’t necessarily appreciate. This is why I appreciated Rosario Dawson’s interpretation of Mimi in the film version: even though her vocals weren’t the most versatile, her ability of as an actress brought a certain sweetness and vulnerability to the role.
This Roger’s voice was actually great, just as good as Tim Howar, just minus the intensity. I remember I wasn’t crazy about Tim’s interpretation of Roger’s character, just because Tim plays Roger with a lot of anger and a lot of emotional walls. I just really loved Tim because his vocals are incredible and he did some creative, surprising things with his voice, in a role where I’ve gotten used to Adam Pascal’s vocals because of the soundtrack. This past Roger (Declan–I forgot his last name) made him more of a brooding, tortured soul, which is how I always pictured Roger to be.
I noticed that—especially with Mark and Roger—the humor overall did not play well with the crowd. I will allow that I noticed that this audience had a lot of older audience members, and not so many crazy RENThead fans like the last time I watched the show. So that probably made a difference in the energy of the crowd. With a tough crowd to respond to and with, I’m sure it probably made it harder on the actors. I’m pretty sure this cast lineup is new, so maybe the chemistry and energy will develop more as they learn to gel more, but I am just glad that I paid half-price for these tickets.
If only I’d gotten to see Lea Salonga perform in Les Miz…L
Okay, okay now I am just being whiny;)