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Broadway musical 'Rent' comes to Okinawa

Date Posted: 2010-12-23

Okinawa-native Yuka Takara is headlining the cast for the Broadway musical ‘Rent’, which will make a single appearance in Urasoe City next Tuesday.

The musical made its debut on Broadway April 29, 1996, surprising writer and composer Jonathan Larson with its immediate sell-out success. It’s a rock opera based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Boheme. It tells the story of a group of young artists in New York City’s East Village where, in addition to being too poor to pay the rent on their apartments, several of the group are HIV positive. Rent was initially a limited three-week production at New York Theatre Workshop in 1994, with enough interest spawned to lead Larson to begin planning for a try on Broadway.

Rent has been a phenomenal success, although composer Larson didn’t get to see it. He died suddenly the night before the off-Broadway premiere of a previously undiagnosed aneurysm. The show went on in true performance tradition, and won critical acclaim, won the Tony Award for Best Musical and others, and closed September 7, 2008 after a 12-year run and 5,124 performances. The stretch makes it the ninth-longest-running Broadway of the show, grossing over $280 million.

Now, the resurrected Rent show is being presented at Urasoe City’s Tedako Hall December 28th as part of an international tour. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show begins at 7 p.m. All seats are reserved, with advance tickets priced at ¥6,000. Tickets at the door will cost ¥6,500. The tickets may be purchased from Family Marts, P-Plus, Lawson’s and Ticket Pia Spot.

Artist Yuka Takara, who spent nine months touring America, Korea and Japan with the musical Rent in 1997, is back with the project again, headlining before the home fans in Urasoe. Together with actors Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp, Takara says it is like a dream to perform together in Okinawa, promising the concert will be both exciting and a memorable day for musical fun. The Okinawa performance is being sponsored by Harvestfarm. Additional concert information is available at (098) 890-7555.

The play evolves around three couples, Collins and his cross-dressing spouse Angel, Mimi and Roger who are often fighting, and Joanne and Maureen, who are always fighting. Add Mark, a filmmaker who is so involved in documenting other people’s lives that he forgets to have one of his own, and you have the makings of Rent. The musical depicts Mark and the three couples as refusing to embrace and live traditional lifestyles, instead opting for the struggles of being independent and surviving as best the can.

The musical, which some say is more like an opera than a musical, has virtually no non-singing dialogue throughout the show, with the performers speaking everything—including tidbits of trivial information—in musical lyrics and prose. Music itself ranges from slow ballads to hard-rock, while keeping to its operatic roots. A critically acclaimed success, Rent is credited with focusing attention on the AIDS epidemic in America, while at the same time moving forward modern American musicals. It has now been performed in more than 40 countries, and even spawned a movie version directed by Christopher Columbus and involving most of the original cast in 2005.

The Rent will play at Urasoe Tedako Hall. To get there, drive south on Hwy 58. After passing the intersection, from which a road leads to Kinser back gate, look for a large Nissan dealership on the left (there’s an equally large BMW/Mini delership on the right), and turn left there. Continue until you come to a bridge over Hwy 330. Tedako Hall is on the right halfway up the hill.

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