Review: Kent’s ‘RENT’ cast nails chemistry needed for powerful performance

Nicole Aikens

The stage was set in typical “RENT” fashion.

For those who aren’t familiar, E. Turner Stump Theatre in the Music and Speech Center was set with a steel structure, like a fire escape, and two tables in the center of the stage.

Enter Danny Lindenberger and Steve Fornaro-Grilley.

Lindenberger and Fornaro-Grilley, who played characters Mark and Roger respectively, channeled their inner Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal from the original Broadway cast.

They had the brotherly bond expected in the Mark and Roger roles, and their singing was on point.

Lindenberger had all the vigor and passion needed for the character of Mark. The enthusiasm in his singing and dancing made me want to watch him.

The first number with the whole company, which is also titled “Rent,” gave me goose bumps.

During this song, when I could feel the cast’s energy and excitement paired with such a high caliber of singing, I knew I was going to get something better than good – I knew the show would be something great.

“RENT’s” run on Broadway ended just over a year ago, and the musical is one of the top ten longest running shows all time. During that time, an entire subculture of fans called “RENT-heads” emerged. For Kent’s “RENT-heads” out there who have seen one or more professional productions, you definitely shouldn’t be disappointed.

When Angel, played by Jon Gluckner, entered the stage, I had a feeling he would shine, just as Angel should. If you mix equal parts delicacy, power and flirtation, you get Angel, and Gluckner knew how to mix them perfectly.

Katherine Mackenzie Waddles, who played Maureen, didn’t just sing “Over the Moon,” she nailed it.

The song is quirky and fun by nature, but it was her voice and her movements that made it. “Over the Moon” isn’t typically one of my favorite “RENT” songs, but that day it was.

During the show, I was impressed with Roger’s love interest, Mimi’s, performance. After the show, I found out Danielle Dorfman, who played the role, was a freshman, leaving me even more impressed.

From where I sat, the show ran smoothly. If there were any hiccups, they went unnoticed.

The entire cast was solid. There was chemistry between them that cannot be learned or choreographed – it just has to be felt.

The singing can be perfect and the dances can be flawless, but without that chemistry, the show wouldn’t be nearly as great as it was.

Overall, I was simply amazed about how well the entire cast got into character – not because they stayed in character, but because they were seemed so deeply committed to playing their parts.

“RENT” follows eight friends over the course of 525,600 minutes, or a year, and we watch them fall in love, fall apart and, in the end, come back together again.

I believed for the entire two-and-a-half hours that I sat there watching those people have their lives come together or fall apart or some combination of the two.

Contact features correspondent Nicole Aikens at [email protected].