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.
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.”