Thursday, April 13, 2023 • 7:30 pm • Power Center

SMTD’s Rent was an incredible experience! Everything from the artists to the accompaniment to the set and costuming was spot-on, and I’m so grateful I got to see this iconic show live.

Shoutouts for favorite performers go to Alex Humphreys (Joanne Jefferson) and Sevon Askew (Tom Collins). I loved Humphreys’ tightly-wound portrayal of Joanne, holding back until her full voice finally exploded through in “Take Me or Leave Me.” Askew played a perfect Tom Collins, simultaneous dreamer and voice of reason. The duet with Angel (“I’ll Cover You”) was beautiful while somehow still hinting at the tragedy to come, and the reprise was heartbreaking.

As I mentioned earlier, the set for this show was super cool. The structure evoked a corner of the East Village circa 1990, every element of the stage simultaneously a darkened street, a lot, a tent city, a community of apartments. Not that I can exactly vouch for its accuracy, but it matched my generation’s faux-nostalgia for the grungy late-80s, early 90s. The program detailed a little of the dramaturgs’ approach to the historical integrity of the play, including details like following AZT dosage instructions or matching the brands of makeup popular at the time. As far as the set goes, I liked how the lack of borders between elements of the set seemed to reflect the transience of housing in the show–one moment the cast was in Mark and Roger’s apartment, the next they were on the street.

The last time I watched the 2005 screenplay version of Rent was probably 2018 or so, when I was in ninth grade, and I think a lot of it went over my head, especially the historical elements like the HIV/AIDS crisis. I took a course on social movements this year where we spent a long time analyzing the ACT UP movement, which brought me a whole new level of appreciation for Rent‘s relationship to and portrayal of the epidemic.

I’m glad I got to see SMTD’s last show of the season, and I can’t wait to check out some of their 23/24 lineup when I get back after the summer. Access to so many incredible performances is one of the things I love most about living in Ann Arbor, and if you’re a student reading this, I hope you’ll take this opportunity and make the most of the campus art scene while you’re here.


At my first ever showing of RENT, I was thoroughly impressed with the singing and dancing the MUSKET performers presented on opening night November 22 at the Power Center for the Performing Arts. As I sat down to take my seat, I noticed there wasn’t any specific stage designs or set-up, just platforms where cast members could climb up and down to sing at an elevated level. The simplistic stage design made me and other audience members intently focus on the music and lyrics throughout the entirety of the show. The one noticeable feature of the stage was Mark and Roger’s (played by Sam Yabrow and Ryan Vasquez) sofa, a raggedy representation of the late 1980s/early 1990s New York City lifestyle they lived in the heart of the city. I thought the decision to keep the stage so minimalist really fared well for the overall production.
As a tale of living through AIDs and poverty and temporary homelessness, RENT’s most touching scene was that for the funeral of Angel (played by Alex Miller) where the crossdesser’s friends told stories about him bringing them together through love. Indeed, the musical’s signature piece “Seasons of Love” captured the essence of that spirit, and the cast members performed it in the most simplistically beautiful way possible, lined up shoulder to shoulder facing the audience.
Seeing the play from a more mature perspective I picked up on themes that my adolescent self had no preconceived notion to pick up on. My favorite song when the play first came out was “Tango Maureen” because I liked the tango melody that oozes through the song. Little did I know it was a tale about how ex-lover Marc and current lover Joanne believe Maureen uses and abuses them and makes them “tango” around her.
Freshman Chani Wereley starred in her role as lost Mimi, where her solo number clad in lingerie and another scene where she shoots up heroin were performed with killer execution. Additionally, ensemble member Kevin Lee provides comic relief to the grim story line, at one point in which he rocks a cow costume. I could go on and on about the hidden laughter and special moments throughout the show, but you really need to see it yourself to appreciate the hard work the cast has put in to this production.
If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s still a performance tonight at 8 p.m. and a matinee show at 2 p.m. tomorrow. Don’t miss out on a fun-filled, musically engaging study break—RENT!


MUSKET presents RENT this weekend.
MUSKET presents RENT this weekend.


What: RENT: The Musical

When: November 22 and 23 at 8 p.m., November 24 at 2 p.m.

Where: Power Center for the Performing Arts

Tickets: $7 for students, call the Michigan League Ticket Office at 734-764-2538 or visit the box office at the back of the Michigan League.

MUSKET’s fall production of RENT comes to the Power Center this weekend for three shows. As the unversity’s only completely student-run theatre company, the musical will broadcast the talents of students from a variety of schools. I’m super excited for the hit after seeing the movie way back in middle school in 2005.

Visit MUSKET’s official website, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and RSVP to the RENT Facebook event page!