SOOP Theatre Company performed Rent: School Edition premiering on October 21 and running through the 24th as their Fall Star Mainstage Production.
The cast, made up of high schoolers, performed six shows of Rent at The 508 Studio in Pelham, including several sold-out performances. With the major hit that the theater community took from the pandemic, having a show with a full capacity was a great feeling for the cast, audience, and producers behind SOOP.
“Bouncing off the audience’s energy during a performance is an experience you can’t get when everything is virtual,” said Maddy Lyons who played Maureen Johnson in Track 1. “Seeing lines land as intended is a really satisfying part of showing the final product of your work to an audience.”
All of the performers were required to be vaccinated, as well as tested before the show. The members of the audience, were also required show proof of vaccination or have a recent negative test. As a result, the cast was able to perform without masks on stage. For much of the cast, it was the first time they were able to do this in almost two years.
Auditions for the show were held on June 24th and 25th, and rehearsals started at the beginning of the school year. Compared to last year’s performance of Heathers which was put on outdoors with a limited audience, Rent was a much more typical theater experience.
“It felt much more safe and secure during our rehearsals and performances,” said Lyons, a sophomore. “The long nights of rehearsal and the way the cast bonded throughout the show proved that we are back to a more normal state of theatre.”
The show tells the story of a group of young poverty-struck artists living in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It follows roommates Mark Cohen (Aidan Zusin), a filmmaker looking for a break-out piece, and Roger Davis (Oliver Tam), a pessimistic musician who tested positive for HIV. Mimi Marquez (Bella Rosado) is a love interest of Roger who he tries to push away. They work together with other members of their community who are all struggling to keep their homes while facing the affects of HIV.
“I think the main takeaway that can be applied to current everyday circumstances from Rent is definitely acceptance,” said Lyons. “Despite their drastic differences, the main characters of the show form a kind of family and support each other through the difficult times they’re facing.”
The musical was directed by Paul Romanello, the artistic director for SOOP. It was written by Jonathan Larson for school-aged casts. Well-known songs from the show include, “La Vie Boheme,” “Seasons of Love,” and “Take Me or Leave Me.”
Mark Cohen: Aidan Zusin
Roger Davis: Oliver Tam
Mimi Marquez: Isabella Rosado
Tom Collins: Austin Kelly
Angel Dumott Schunard: Jeremy Tam
Maureen Johnson/LOF/Mrs. Cohen/Ensemble: Maddy Lyons(track 1), Ava Pedorella(track 2)
Joanne Jefferson/Mimi’s Mom/Ensemble: Kirsten Agbenyega(track 1), Ava Pursel(track 2)
Benjamin Coffin III: Nicholas Shark Arakas
Mr. Jefferson/The Man/Restaurant Person/Ensemble: Sean McCormick
Mrs. Jefferson/LOF/Seasons of Love Soloist 1/Ensemble: Emma Koonce
Blanket Person/Ensemble: Jonah Snyder
Pam/Alexi Darling/Ensemble: Samantha Minn
Paul/Vender/Ensemble: Leo Garcia
Ali/Roger’s Mom/Seasons of Love Soloist 3/Ensemble: Lucette Ow
Gordon/Mr. Grey/Homeless Man/Ensemble: Daniel O’Keefe
Steph/LOF/Ensemble: Catarina Gomes
Sue/Ensemble: Kaylie Blatt