Muscatine Community College to perform ‘Rent’

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–One of the most acclaimed musicals of contemporary times, “Rent” ran on Broadway for 12 years, earned both a Tony Award for best musical and a Pulitzer Prize for drama, and has attracted numerous fans. Nov. 18 and 19, Muscatine Community College’s theatre department will bring this wildly popular musical to life.

Actors felt particularly excited to learn that director Courtney Cooper had selected “Rent” for this fall’s performance. “I loved this show since I was eight-years-old,” enthused Cali Van Zandt, who will play JoAnne in her fifth production at Muscatine Community College. “This show has gotten me through life and it’s been great to be in it.”

The story of a group of young artists struggling with poverty and the AIDS crisis in the early 1990s, “Rent” follows this band of friends through one year of their lives, exploring how they find meaning, move forward from terrible tragedies, and find both joy and heartbreak in their relationships. Loosely based on the famous Puccini opera “La Boehme,” Cooper shares she choose the show because of its appeal to people in all different walks of life. “Alyssa put my name forward and I worked with the production crew to choose a show, and this one was the one that I felt most passionate about,” she shared. “In my opinion, it’s the human experience in a nutshell,” she observed, adding, “I don’t think a single person who comes will not be able to relate to it.”

A show with all of the excitement and theatricality of a contemporary musical, the cast has worked hard to perfect the art of singing and dancing simultaneously. A musical that borders on an operetta because of the amount singing it contains, Muscatine Community College Music Director Pat Burr has assisted the performers in mastering their music.

The cast of Muscatine Community College’s production of “Rent” rehearsing their opening number. Photo by Margaret Hurlbert.

The actors have also embraced testing their boundaries, playing larger than life characters with big personalities. Jenni Colbert, playing Mimi for her fifth Muscatine Community College role elaborated: “Mimi’s crazy. She was never someone I thought I could play. She makes me step out of the box and try something new.”

To compliment the actors’ strong performances, Muscatine Community College has updated the audio visual equipment in its black box theatre, incorporating some of the latest sound technology as well as remotely controlled LED lights that can adjust their placement and change to many different colors with just the click of a mouse. Chad Bishop, the head of the theatre department and lighting and sound specialist, finds that these new additions really enhance the show for the audience. “I’m adding color because each season has a color to me, and I think that’s what the authors intended.”

Cooper welcomed these additions and hopes they will help attract more aspiring actors to Muscatine Community College both to study and perform. “We wanted to show that we have the same facilities as other community colleges and build the program back up,” she emphasized.

Muscatine Community College’s performances of “Rent” will take place Nov. 18 and 19 at 7 p.m. at Muscatine Community College’s black box theatre (152 Colorado Street, Muscatine). A show with mature themes best suited for adult audiences age 18 and up, tickets cost $15 for adults and $10 for students with school ID. Anyone wanting to attend may purchase tickets online.

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