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OCU Raises the ‘Rent’ for Performance Season

by Rod Jones

The rock musical “Rent” will open Oklahoma City University’s 64th consecutive opera and music theater season with performances Oct. 2 through 4. Rent will be presented in three performances — 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and a 3 p.m. Sunday matinee on the historic Kirkpatrick Auditorium stage at 2501 N. Blackwelder. Tickets ($12-25) are available at okcu.edu/tickets or by calling the OCU Box Office at 405-208-5227.

The 10th-longest running musical in Broadway history, “Rent” is one of only five shows to win both the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award for Best Musical.

The show contains themes appropriate for mature audiences. Loosely based on Puccini’s romantic opera “La Bohème,” the musical tells of a year in the lives of seven struggling artists in New York’s AIDS-ravaged East Village in 1989. The score by Jonathan Larson — who also wrote the book and lyrics, and died the night before the show’s off-Broadway premiere — incorporates pop, gospel, tango, blues and rock ’n roll, sung by a roster of sympathetic characters struggling with love, life and loss.

The 29-member cast is under the direction of Karen Coe Miller, who will present a free director’s talk 45 minutes before curtain. Matthew Mailman will direct the seven-piece on-stage band from the drumset.

“The themes of ‘Rent’ are universal,” Miller said. “The characters ask themselves questions that face us all: ‘Will I be accepted for who I am? How do I live fully in the face of death? How do I claim my place in a society that marginalizes me? How can I remember to measure my life's success in love, not material possessions?’ I’ve been moved by the way my cast has grappled with these questions and found connections in their own lives.”

After its Broadway opening in 1996, The New York Times noted “What makes ‘Rent’so wonderful is not its hipness quotient, but its extraordinary spirit of hopeful defiance and humanity.”

OCU’s Oklahoma Opera and Music Theater Company season continues Oct. 9-11 with the Tony Award-winning musical “Nine,” inspired by Frederico Fellini’s semi-autobiographical film “8 ½”; Gaetano Donizetti’s comic opera buffa “Don Pasquale,” Nov. 20-22; W.A. Mozart’s operatic fantasy “The Magic Flute,” Feb. 19-21; the one-act opera “Jackie O,” March 4-6, with composer Michael Daughtery in residence; and the Tony Award-wining musical “Evita” by the award-winning team of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, inspired by the life and death of Argentina’s Eva Perron, April 22-24.

For more information, visit the Bass School of Music website at okcu.edu/music.

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