Rent Cast: Color

The cast includes Sadie Fitzsimmons as Joanne Jefferson (top row, from left), Jaxin Mackienruf-Stephens as Mimi Marquez, Braden Zywicki as Mark Cohen and Mat Anderson as Tom Collins. Additional performers include DJ Benischek as Roger Davis (bottom row, (from left), Alix Brandt as Maureen Johnson and Luke Smelters as Angel Dumott Schunard.

Play: ”Rent”

Performers: The Pop Factory Players.

Time/dates: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18 and 25; 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19 and 26; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24 (American Sign Language).

Site: Leona M. Havens Theatre, Darlington (Wis.) High School, 11838 Center Hill Road.

Cost: $12.



Set in New York’s bohemian East Village in 1989, a group of artists live, love and struggle to create a life under the shadows of HIV/AIDS, homelessness and addiction. The musical follows the main characters, roommates Mark and Roger, during the course of a year, as they deal with tragedy and triumph with their circle of eclectic and troubled friends.


  • The musical is loosely based on Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s opera “La Boheme.” Puccini based his opera on French author Henri Munger’s 1851 collection of stories, “Scenes of Bohemian Life.”
  • The 1996 original Broadway production was a smash hit, winning four Tony Awards, six Drama Desk Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
  • Playwright and composer Jonathan Larson never lived to see the musical’s success. He died of an aortic dissection the morning of the first preview performance of “Rent.”
  • The Pop Factory Players cast consists of local members. Leading roles have been in rehearsals since September, with the entire company of 30 rehearsing since late October.
  • Allison Taylor is at the helm. She last directed “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” for the Pop Factory Players in 2011.
  • The Pop Factory Players are presenting the school edition, but Taylor cautions that parental discretion is advised for profanity, sexual content and substance abuse.

Quotable, from director Allison Taylor

  • “We are offering an ASL-interpreted performance on the 24th (of January). It’s the first time Pop Factory is doing it, and we’re excited about it.”
  • “The social issues of ‘Rent’ are still prevalent today, even it’s through the lens of the ‘80s. I think it’s important to make people aware of these issues, even if it’s something they’re uncomfortable with.”
  • “The idea of “Rent” carries two meanings for the characters — the price of occupying the space where they live but also the cost of living a life they no longer feel is their own.”
  • “The music is fun and fun to listen to. The subject matter is heavy, but the message really does come down to loving your neighbors and helping others.”