University Theater opens production of RENT

University Theater at Youngstown State University presents RENT.

University Theater’s production of RENT opens Thursday for a two-weekend run. Cast members pictured, from left, are Natalie Martzial, Nikita Jones, Joey Alvey and Joshua Green.

University Theater presents the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical RENT, opening Thursday, Nov. 8 in Bliss Hall’s Ford Theater on the campus of Youngstown State University.

The show runs two weekends, Nov. 8, 9, 10 and 11 and Nov. 16, 17 and 18. Thursday through Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m., while the Sunday matinee performances are at 3 p.m. Scott R. Irelan, chair of the YSU Department of Theater and Dance, is the director.

Based loosely on Puccini’s La BohemeRENT follows a year in the life of a group of friends struggling to make it in the big city. They include Mark, a filmmaker and the narrator of the story; his former girlfriend, Maureen, a performance artist; Maureen’s lover, Joanne, a public interest lawyer; Mark’s roommate Roger, a musician; Mimi, an exotic dancer, with whom Roger falls in love; Tom Collins, a computer genius; Collins’ lover, Angel, a street musician and drag queen; and Benny, a former member of the group who, after marrying into a wealthy family, has become their landlord. How these young bohemians negotiate their dreams, loves and conflicts provides the narrative thread. An audience advisory has been issued for coarse language and intense depictions of affection.

RENT presents an interesting challenge because it is so well known,” Irelan said. “We have tried to get back what it was when it first came out at the New York Theatre Workshop—a complex score and important story staged within a simple setting.”

The cast includes Paul Sauline, BA in Telecommunications, Senior, Youngstown, OH; Patrick Niess, BM in Music Performance Voice, Freshman, Warren, OH; Eric Shonk, BFA Musical Theater, Sophomore, Canal Winchester, OH; Joshua Green, BFA Musical Theater, Junior, Youngstown, OH; Joseph Alvey, BFA Musical Theater, Junior, Parma, OH; Carly Magnuson, BFA Musical Theater, Sophomore, Canfield, OH; Kylie Davis, BFA Musical Theater, Freshman, Sharon, PA; Nikita Jones, BA Theater Studies, Junior, Youngstown, OH; Natalie Martzial, BFA Musical Theater, Sophomore, Boardman, OH; Anthony Humphrey, BM in Music Education Vocal, Freshman, New Castle, PA; John Cruz, BFA Musical Theater, Junior, Mineral Ridge, OH; Joshua Fleming, BFA Musical Theater, Freshman, Canfield, OH; Connor Bezeredi, BFA Musical Theater, Sophomore, Salem, OH; Joseph Pascarella, BA Theater Studies, Junior, Youngstown, OH; Claire Blackledge, BFA Musical Theater, Sophomore, Akron, OH; Kathie Steeb, BFA Musical Theater, Freshman, Columbiana, OH; Ashley Whited, BFA Musical Theater, Sophomore, Struthers, OH; Jordan Mastrangelo, BM in Music Ed Instrument, Freshman, Monaca, PA; Calvin Brown, BFA Theater, Senior, Youngstown, OH.

Tickets are available by calling the University Theater Box Office at 330-941-3105.  Tickets are free for YSU students with ID; $10 for adults; $5 for senior citizens, YSU faculty and staff and high school and college students from other universities, Penguin Club members and YSU alumni.  Parking is available in the Wick Avenue deck for a nominal fee.