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REVIEW: "RENT" shines in TPAC season debut

The cast of RENT takes the stage; Photo courtesy of TPAC

This review is part of the Vision's continued coverage of shows hitting the stage at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.


On Friday, Sep. 23rd, hundreds of buzzing theatergoers flooded into the Andrew Johnson Theater eagerly awaiting RENT, the first show of the 38th season at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

RENT, created by Jonathan Larson, winner of four Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize, follows a small but mighty group of young artists struggling to make a living in New York City amid the deadly HIV/AIDS epidemic. With a unique set design and fantastic score, TPAC spreads a message of love and acceptance through a medium filled with ethereal beauty.

The set engulfs the audience creating an atmospheric pull that enhances storytelling to the next level. Complete with scaffolding, concrete support beams, and functioning factory windows, the set, designed by Gary C. Hoff, allows the audience to get one step closer into the world of RENT.

Mikey, an upcoming documentarian, is often seen with a camera filming the daily shenanigans of his friends around the city. His camcorder has a live feed that displays through the factory windows allowing the audience to see the camera.

By the end of the show, the video collected is used in a compilation of all the good moments the friends had before they were torn down by the ravenous turmoil of AIDS.

Highlighted by the unforgettable classic “Seasons of Love,” the soundtrack offers something for everyone. Filled with punk and modern influence, RENT’s score isn’t afraid to lean into the anger-filled sound and show the residents’ dissatisfaction, as seen in the song “RENT.”

TPAC’s production was filled with incredible vocalists that lived up to even the original Broadway cast.

RENT is meant to sing to the masses a message of unrelenting love and compassion even in times of darkness.

Keep up with the latest shows coming to town on TPAC’s website.

This article was written by Zach Watkins

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