There aren’t many musicals whose fans are given their own unique label. "Rentheads" have been turning out in droves to celebrate the 20th anniversary tour of their favorite rock musical that first commanded Broadway’s attention in 1996. Austin audiences will have a chance to sing along with Rent’s brilliant score and fall in love with its characters all over again during five performances October 13-15 at Austin's Bass Concert Hall.
Skyler Volpe says playing heroin-addicted exotic dancer Mimi has been a trip. “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and it’s one of the most rewarding. She’s a tricky character because she’s young but she’s also wise beyond her years.”
The beloved story of seven artists struggling as they follow their dreams in New York City enjoyed a 12-year run on Broadway and won numerous Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score.
Volpe puts Rent’s longevity into perspective by admitting most of the current cast members were young kids when Rent first ruled Broadway, and some weren’t even born. She says although this production is staying true to the original script, costumes, and choreography, the young cast helps provide a fresh take on the material.
“We’re coming at it with our perspective, having growing up after the AIDS crisis. ... So we have some distance from it,” explains Volpe. “It’s definitely Rent as you remember it but because we’re all young and new, it just feels new again.”
Volpe credits the show’s broad appeal to its themes of love and generosity.
“I think what made Rent last is that everyone can walk away with something,” she says. “I hope people leave feeling uplifted and hopeful. Because the show goes to some really tough emotional places, but ultimately it shows us that when things get really dark, they can also get a whole lot lighter.”