Review: Rent at Davis Musical Theater Company

Showtimes: Fri 8pm, Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm; Through 7/7; $14-$18; Jean Henderson Performing Arts Center, 607 Pena Drive in Davis; (530) 756-3682;
Rated 4.0

Jonathan Larson’s Rent was to the ’90s what Hamilton became to the early 21st century: A little-ish show that started off-Broadway, took the theater world by storm and then moved to Broadway, where it made show business history. Sadly, Larson died the night before it opened and never knew what a sensation his show became—a 12-year run on Broadway, several Tony awards and the Pulitzer prize for drama.

Now it has come to the Davis Musical Theatre Company under the direction of John Ewing.

It’s the emotional story of young artists and wannabes in Manhattan’s East Village as they search for love, inspiration and a place to live. It’s a bit dated in this age when AIDS is no longer an automatic death sentence, but when it was written, it was praised it for its affirmative representation of HIV-positive individuals.

While there are many excellent performances, outstanding among them are Phillip Graves as Mark, a documentary filmmaker, and Ethan Mack as the drag queen Angel, who has AIDS and whose relationship with Collins (Kevin Borcz) is the most powerful in the show.

We follow the group from one Christmas Eve to another. The beautiful “Seasons of Love” opens the second act and is a highlight of the evening, a poignant acknowledgment of the passage of time and evolution of emotion.

Rent is a salute to the love of the characters for life and for each other and the need to live for the moment.