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dance & theater in queensRent At York College Performing Arts Center

May 4, 2012 / Jamaica NY / Dance & Theater in Queens / Queens Buzz. The York College Performing Arts Center is hosting performances of the musical, Rent, through May 13th. I had the opportunity to attend a performance of it last weekend, which includes an all-star cast of eighteen actors and actresses, most of whom have affiliations with York College.

The play is scripted along the same lines as the century old Italian opera, La Boheme. La Boheme is based upon a French novel entitled Scenes of the Bohemian Life, which was about the life of ‘starving artists’ living on the left bank of Paris during the tuberculosis epidemic of the late 1800’s. Rent is an updated version of that storyline - about starving artists living in the east village of New York City during the AIDS epidemic of the 1990’s.

Click to the Queens Events calendar and then click the theater link to obtain performance times and ticket information. And click here to view our review and photo slide show of Rent at the York College Performing Arts Center.

Rent At York College Performing Arts Center

dance & theater in queensMay 4, 2012 / Jamaica NY / Dance & Theater in Queens / Queens Buzz. I entered the large theater and found a comfortable seat off to the side. The peered onto the stage set which was full of colorful lighting and shadows, while the audience murmured away in anticipation of the show.

The show opens with a musical number sung by five of the cast members, and is followed by the entire cast singing the song entitled Rent. From the outset I found the vocals somewhere between inspiring and haunting, depending on the musical composition. There were 33 songs sung throughout the production, some of which I’ll highlight, but it's worth noting that they were all performed at a level worthy of an NYC off Broadway production. In the photo to your left, you can see part of the cast singing a song at York College Performing Arts Center in Rent .

york performing arts center jamaica ny queensThe story begins with a couple of poor, artistic friends hanging out in their apartment on the lower east side. The narrator, Mark is played by Kevin Gomez, who is an aspiring film maker. Mark’s roommate, Roger, is a musician played by Taso Mikroulis, who decides to hang back when some of their friends drop in to get them to go out. After the others leave, Roger meets Mimi [played by Sabrina Thomas] and immediately falls in love with her. In the photo to your right you can see the two roommates, Roger and Mark, singing a song about girls and love.

One of the friends, Collins [played by Solomon Peck], also falls in love, but with a drag queen named Angel [played by Daniel Anthony Hidalgo]. Angel provides some of the comic relief in this sad tale of poverty and illness.

Music at York College - Performing Arts Centers in Queens

Sabrina Thomas had a couple of solos, one of which was Out Tonight. She sang it so clearly, holding crisp clear high notes with a Whitney sabrina thomas york college performing arts center jamaica ny queensHouston like quality. She and Taso Mikroulis also did a nicely choreographed duet in the beginning. All of the music was done in tandem with the band, conducted by Jonathan Quash. The band played a wide range of music from background movements to jazzy instrumentals. In the photo to your left is Sabrina Thomas as Mimi at the York College Performing Arts Center production of Rent.

There's a scene that includes an AIDS support group, showing how many people in the early 1990's came to face their imminent deaths. This is followed by a vocal solo by Miya Basso as Joanne that displayed some of the vocal fullness and depth that reminded me a bit of Aretha Franklin.

In another scene we see the room mates and friends go out with Mimi. Mark is missing his girlfriend, Maureen [played by Miya Bass], who has been dating a man of means who they run into at a restaurant. They manage to distract the wealthy man, and for a time Mark and Maureen get back together. The cast sings a few more tunes before intermission.

Second Act of Rent at York College Performing Arts Center

music program at york collegeThe second Act opens with a beautiful rendition of Seasons of Love. I found this score to be one I could easily listen to about 565,000 times, as it is warm and uplifting, in a melancholy sort of way. While the first half of the play was about meeting new people and spending time together, the second half of the play was about saying farewell to friends. In the photo to your right you can see the cast singing Seasons of Love at the York College Performing Arts Center.

The set for the play, Rent, at the York Performing Arts Center used a modern, minimalist stage design. In doing so, they used lighting to showcase and accent the locales of the play - from Mark and Roger’s apartment just above the street; to the cafe / restaurant in the east village.

York College Vocalists Deliver Grand Performances in Rent

theater in jamaica ny Roger and Mimi break up because Roger knows Mimi is terribly ill [AIDS] and believes she should find a wealthier man who may be able to help her get proper medical care. But Roger is heartbroken to let her go. Maureen also leaves Mark.

Maureen comes back some time later to tell Roger that she’s seen Mimi and Mimi has broken up with her wealthy boyfriend. Roger goes to Mimi, who has become very ill. Roger played by tenor, Taso Mikroulis, delivers a couple of emotion-laden tunes during the second act. In the photo to your right are Roger and Mimi singing a sad song.

The play ends with another chorus by the company, in tandem with Roger, who mourns the loss of Mimi.

As mentioned at the outset, the music in this theatrical production was of a consistently high quality. Some of the vocals were outstanding, the modern lighting and set design were a pleasure to watch, and the frequently the performance shook loose emotions, in a way only possible through a heart-rending musical.

Rent - York College Performing Arts Center - Production Credits

dance in jamaica nyThe production was directed by Timothy J. Amrheim, Chair of York College Theatre; in collaboration with Matthew Katz, Director of the York College Performing Arts Center. The following were instrumental in putting together this production: Musical Director Jonathan Quash; Choreographer / Stage Manager Jessica Morales; Production Manager Kwame Clark; Technical Director G. Lawrence Belcon; Set Design David T. Jones; Lighting Design Daniel Winters; Costume Design Allison Crutchfield; and Projection Design Daniel Winters & Evan Schmidt. The photo to your right shows the closing performance in Rent at the York College Performing Arts Center.

Photos of the Rent at the York College Performing Arts Center

Click here to view photos of Rent at the York College Performing Arts Center in Jamaica Queens NY, or you can view the photos below at your own pace by clicking on the arrows.

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