Highlands University and UWC Present Rock Opera “Rent School Edition” in Feb., March
New Mexico Highlands University and the United World College — USA present the rock opera “Rent School Edition” in the university’s Ilfeld Auditorium Feb. 25, 26, 27 and March 5 and 6 at 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. performance on March 7.
The original Rent production won a Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1996 and a Tony Award in 1996 for best musical. Jonathon Larson wrote the music and lyrics, and the rock opera is based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Boheme. Rent tells a modern story of struggling young artists and musicians in New York City’s Lower East Side living with the reality of AIDS.
Rent School Edition is modified for younger actors. It will be performed by a cast of 21, including students from Highlands University and the United World College, and one student from Robertson High School.
The director for the Las Vegas production is Tim Crofton, United World College –USA theatre arts instructor. The music director is Andre Garcia-Nuthmann, the Highlands University choral director and Music Department coordinator.
“The cast is so qualified for their roles and it’s going to be a wonderful production,” Garcia-Nuthmann said. “The music is rock genre style with some other musical elements like South American influences. The music is very complex, layered and powerful.”
The most important story Rent tells is about tolerance for different cultures, lifestyle and beliefs. The old adage that â€˜love conquers all’ is true in this rock opera,” Garcia-Nuthmann said.
Garcia-Nuthmann said he is thrilled that the university revisted the concept of collaborating with the United World College for joint productions.
Crofton agrees: “Theatre is a collaborative art and it’s fantastic to be working with Highlands University on this production. We’re pooling our resources for this show, which allows for a bigger, more ambitious production artistically.”
What’s so attractive about Rent is that it requires an acting style that is very grounded and based in reality,” Crofton said.
Playing the eight lead roles for the rock opera are United World College students Gabrielle Da Costa as Joanne, and Derek Kief as Roger; Highlands University students Lisa Cisneros as Maureen, Nicole Robinson as Mimi, Joseph Chavez as Mark, T.J. Harris as Collins, and Joshua Lindsey as Benny; and Robertson High School student Joseph Rivera as Angel.
Both Garcia-Nuthmann and Crofton said they hope Rent School Edition is the beginning of many future joint musical and theatre productions between the university and UWC.
Tickets for RENT School Edition are $10 for general admission and $5 for students. Tickets are on sale now at the university’s radio station, KEDP, 901 University Ave., 505-454-3238. Tickets are also available at Clarity Gift Gallery, 166 Bridge St., 505-425-3955.
Rent School Edition is presented through a special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI in New York City.