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"RENT" Brings Message of Hope in Dark Times

University of Louisiana Monroe
The cast of "Rent" open the show March 17th.

The musical RENT brings a message of hope and acceptance from New York’s East Village as a group of artists struggle for significance in the era of HIV/AIDS.

“It’s about love. It’s about loss. It’s about finding things. It’s about living in the moment. It’s very inspirational. It’s a love story,” says Director Robin Stephens, associate professor of Dance in ULM's School of Visual and Performing Arts.

Loosely based on the opera La Boheme the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize winning musical is about a group of artist living struggling to survive on the streets of New York. 

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the show’s opening and the author’s death. On opening night of previews for RENT, writer, lyricist, and composer Jonathan Larson died suddenly and mysteriously of a ruptured aorta.

Larson brought the storyline of La Boheme​ into the 1990's, and updated the story from a struggle with tuberculosis to the struggle of multiple characters with what, at the time, was the death sentence of HIV/AIDS. 

“The challenge of honoring the story has been my biggest concern. I wanted to make sure that all sequences, all the environments, all of the relationships, the story within the story all were handled with great respect and grace,” says Stephens.

Returning to the ULM stage and cast as the lead role, Mimi, is Hannah Bryan. She and the other cast members navigate a set full of dark scaffolding and hollow rooms to bring the music of show to life with blues, rock and contemporary music.

Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. March 17 and 18, and at 2 p.m. on the March 19 and 20. KEDM Public Radio hosts a Director's Gala on Friday, March 18 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Tickets are available online or by calling the ULM School of Visual and Performing Arts at 342-1414.

Kirby Rambin is a natural entertainer, having played violin since the age of 9 and performing publicly since he was just 12. As a teen, he performed with the Monroe Youth Symphony and the Louisiana All-State Orchestra.
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