April’s Five to Try Continues…in the Park!

My creative adventures for April’s Five to Try continued last week as I experienced a theater production I’d longed to see for so, SO many years – try 15! And on that note, ahem…let’s continue with the proper heading accessorizing…

Five to Try for April – #3 RENT courtesy of American Stage in the Park

I’m not a huge opera fan, but rock opera? In the right context, I can downright love it. For about two years, the original Broadway cast soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar blared out of my car speakers once I’d found this great Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice gem. But as is always the case, I like to be a little familiar with the music before going to see a Broadway (lite) production.

I had thought I had THE perfect plan. My birthday was in early April and my friend Staci and I had bought tickets to see the American Stage in the Park rendition of “Rent” for late April – I know! I’ll ask family members to buy me the original cast album so I can get familiar with the music but still be a little surprised by the plot and where it takes me.

And I received the 2005 movie version of RENT instead, universally panned by critics everywhere. It’s still in its original wrapping. Yep, a sign to simply handle things like that yourself, I know.

So I bought the soundtrack myself on Amazon.com, which I received just days before the actual performance I was scheduled to see. I got through about 1 1/2 of the 2 CDs and I will say it was immensely helpful though I will admit that on its own without seeing WHAT was happening with the story simultaneously, the music on the CD felt weak. (My opinions have since changed somewhat…)

So… we went! And I had remembered that none of the local reviewers (Trib, Times or Creative Loafing) were really knocked out by what they saw, though it appeared that all or most of them had seen an early sneak peek version specifically for media and to get all final kinks out of the show.

My take? Overall, truly original. I’m still breaking out into “Over the Moon” in the kitchen while I pour my milk (interestingly enough) and hearing in my head “Light My Candle” and “Out Tonight” at impromptu moments. Who knows why? That one really escapes me because though I enjoyed much of the cast, the performer carrying out the character of Mimi (Alex Covington) in a much busier role than I had anticipated, impressed me the least with her singing ability, but she did great at the physicality of the role and had a nice chemistry with her counterpart character Roger (played by Pete Zicky, who reminded me of a cross between Eddie Izzard and Robert Smith of the Cure). Rather than use this blog to point out what I didn’t like  – since so many local media outlets seemed to focus on this – let’s share what I DID like:

I was so impressed with how cohesive everything was – you’re dealing with the elements. The show started 10 minutes early in anticipation of possible rainshowers that could threaten the show (thankfully, these did not arrive). I would imagine such an unexpected jump out on stage had to throw off the cast a little and they didn’t show any signs of being daunted by this.

The casting on the whole with a few exceptions seemed spot on – and now that I’ve heard the soundtrack a few more times since, and namely, THE originals, I believe this now even more than I did then. Real highlights, Alison Burns as Maureen, LuLu Picart as Joanne,  Clinton C.H. Harris as Tom Collins and Ricky Cona as Angel (who may I just say really rocked those striped leggings like no woman I’ve seen ever could, an added bonus).

I loved my seats – thank you, Staci! Two rows back with technically not a soul immediately in front of me… the chairs for a park performance are plastic lawn chairs, so while my ass was hurting by the end of the performance, I had plenty of room to stretch out those legs and adjust as needed…

We survived the bugs – and we’re talking bugs of various shapes, sizes, and breeds! Flying, thick-bodied, tiny and whispy, biting and just fluttering about…you name it! If it was a bug, it was likely there at the performance, but thankfully the winds would occasionally wisk through (thank you, cloudy weather, for that bonus!) and you just had to dodge these little insect projectiles. But we made it! (The real hilarity was watching big bugs flying about onstage and I’m sure I saw one big one bounce off the head of towering lead character Mark (played by Ryan Michael Owens). I can’t imagine what that’s like to have to perform and contend with these added elements. The cast really hung in there and delivered!

I’m thrilled I finally had an opportunity to see this great work by the late Jonathan Larson, based loosely on Puccini’s “La Boheme” that I had heard so much about all of these years. I may be late to the party, but at least I finally got to experience it for myself, something I might not have pushed myself to do if I weren’t taking part in this little creative exercise of mine.

Something for all of us to keep in mind…  is there a place you’ve always wanted to visit? Something you’ve always wanted to see or experience?

So what’s holding you back? Come on, jump outside your comfort zone and get your fannies out there.

Learning! It’s what life’s all about. Come join me.

And look for info about my final two Five to Try contributions for April coming soon…they were berrrrrry interesting. More on those soon!


  1. You’re desire to try new things is inspirational! Swimming with dolphins, Bok Towers, singing on stage – dreams whose time has come my friend!

    • Author

      Okay, so I’m a little slow in responding here but I did beat the one-month cut-off, so I’ve got that going for me! Staci, I am so happy to hear that my little creative experiment has inspired you. Nothing makes me happier than when I hear that from folks but especially from good friends. Dolphins, towers and songwriters…get ready! Cheers for going for it. Over here, June already promises to have some interesting excursions planned. I’ll really get to know different parts of the area that I’ve been wanting to explore, and adventure is my middle name after all. Technically, Mary, but that’s not quite as sexy, is it? Thanks! ~CK

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