By Brian ROXAS
I spent my Sunday evening among thousands of people cheering wildly for a group of AIDS sufferers, drug addicts, rioters and starving artists.
No, I was not at a rehab center or caught up in some rave.
I was at the Hollywood Bowl, where the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning musical “Rent,” directed by Neil Patrick Harris, played last weekend, Aug. 6-8.
I entered the Bowl with
high expectations: “Rent” is
one of my all-time favorite musicals, I really admire Neil Patrick Harris’ work, and it featured an all-star cast. It seemed as if nothing could go wrong.
The story of “Rent” follows a year in the life of a group of New Yorkers, struggling to pay rent and make their mark in the world. Through a series of losses and trials, the group’s stories teach us to hold onto the values we hold dear, despite the hardships.
Overall, I was satisfied with the performance, but not overjoyed.
First of all, in order to keep the plot moving, the dialogue had to be very quick. This caused some important lines to be rushed through, and not given enough emphasis. This made the musical hard to follow at times, and those unfamiliar with the story might not have understood how certain events came about.
Fortunately, most of the major plot points in “Rent,” as with most musicals, were
sung. This made up for the hurried dialogue, and allowed the audience to at least understand the general outline of the story, while enjoying the music.
Especially with the heavy character-driven plot that “Rent” has, the cast was very important in making or breaking the performance. Fortunately, most of the cast performed amazingly.
Emmy-winning Wayne Brady played Tom Collins, the lovable gay anarchist who falls in love with Angel (Telly Leung), a charismatic and caring drag queen. Both of them played their roles amazingly, and the chemistry between the two was truly touching. To add to their great acting, their singing was excellent, and really kept the audience members engaged and captivated.
Unfortunately, Vanessa Hudgens, who played Mimi, was less impressive. While she seemed well suited for Disney’s High School Musical series, jumping from the
school singer/genius to a 19-year-old stripper addicted to drugs was definitely a stretch for her. Her acting was sloppy and her singing was consistently flat on several major notes.
On the other hand, Nicole Scherzinger, the lead singer
of The Pussycat Dolls, performed outstandingly as Maureen, the flirtatious, creative bisexual artist and activist. Her acting was very believable. Right from the start, she had the entire audience in a laughing fit, as she led a protest by explaining a strange dream she had about cows in Cyberland. In addition, her singing was breathtaking and always spot on.
Despite a few minor problems with the dialogue delivery and disappointment with Hudgens’ performance, the musical was still enjoyable. While it did not take my breath away, it was still very good. Like a movie I would not pay to watch on the big screen, I would definitely “Rent” it.
Brian Roxas is an incoming senior at Crescenta Valley High School.