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McPherson College Theatre Presents Challenging Musical with 'RENT!'

posted Jan 29, 2013 in CAMPUS EVENTS

When choosing one word to describe “RENT! School Edition” at McPherson College, “difficult” is a good choice. It contains not only challenging and dramatic rock music, but also subject matter that demands much of college students.

And all this during the four weeks of MC’s interterm session.

“This show has been popular because of its gritty realness,” said Dr. Josh Norris, assistant professor of music and director of choral activities. “Each one of us can recognize elements of ourselves in the characters and their songs in this musical. Every one of us has had feelings at one time or another that are expressed in this musical.”

Dr. Norris said “RENT!” became popular at a time when American society was struggling with many social issues in the mid 1990s and that the show's composer - Jonathan Larson - created a work of art that was unafraid to confront those issues in a uniquely American way: musical theatre.

“It was a groundbreaking production when it was first produced in that no composer had achieved such instantaneous success integrating this style of gritty rock music into mainstream musical theatre,” Dr. Norris said.

At turns passionate, angry and comical, “RENT!” went on a 12-year run on Broadway and won Tony Award for Best Musical.

Loosely based on Puccini’s opera “La Bohéme”, “RENT! School Edition” also follows poor and struggling young artists, but is set in New York rather than Paris and replaces the plague of tuberculosis with AIDS.

This is also the senior show for Jacob Cooper, Arlington, Kan. Cooper, plays Roger in the show, a recovering drug addict who has a lot of anger bottled up inside of him.

“I would say bringing out that anger has probably been the toughest part for me because I tend to be pretty mellow,” Cooper said. “At first I wasn’t excited about ‘RENT!’ because it just didn’t seem interesting to me, but once I watched the Broadway musical on DVD and watched the film, I got really excited about it. I’m just ready to get to the performances.”

“RENT! School Edition” will show Feb. 1 and 2 in Brown Auditorium at McPherson College.
All shows start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets to all shows cost $5 for adults and $3.50 for children ages high school and younger as well as seniors. Reservations may be made by contacting the theatre box office at 620-242-0444 or at This production does contain mature themes and language.

“RENT” includes:
Jd. Bowman, associate professor of theatre, director; Dr. Norris, musical direction; Dr. Rick Tyler, professor of speech and theatre, set design.

Cast: Cooper; Grahm Mahanna, senior, Hoxie, Kan.; Mark Dowdy, senior, Huntingdon, Pa.; Nick Wilde, junior, McPherson, Kan.; E.H. Petropulos, junior, Larkspur, Colo.; Josh Hall, freshman, Kansas City, Kan.; Addie Johnson, freshman, McPherson, Kan.; and Kristie Gutierrez, junior, Quinter, Kan.

Chorus: Adriana Dreier, senior, Newton, Kan.; Alyese Crist, junior, Quinter, Kan.; Brian Ellis, sophomore, Denver, Colo.; Justin Biegger, junior, Fuquay Varina, N.C.; Kenyatta Harden, senior, McPherson, Kan.; Laurina Hannan, sophomore, Wamego, Kan.; and Sarah Schowengerdt, junior, McPherson, Kan.

Crew: Jacee Coberly, senior, Gove, Kan.; Isaac Levin, senior, Dighton, Kan.; Haleigh Orand, freshman, McPherson, Kan.; Matraca Ewy, junior, Halstead,Kan.; Adam Osner, freshman, Conway Springs, Kan.; and Arelyn Fallis, sophomore, Luray, Kan.

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