I recently saw a young couple walk past the Historic Iao Theater marquee that displayed details about the upcoming production of "RENT." It read "525,600 minutes," which is a lyric from the musical.
The girl said, "I really want to see this."
To which her partner responded, "I hope that's not how long it is."
The cast of “RENT,” Francis Tau'a (from left) Kisha Milling, Kelsey Greenway, Kalen Willits, Jonna Ahn, Charles Cook, Isaac Rauch and Ricky Jones, will bring the popular musical to the Historic Iao Theatre beginning Friday.
JACK GRACE photo
The lyric is in reference to the number of minutes in a year. "RENT" spans a year in the life of eight New York bohemians. There are two types of theatergoers who will attend "RENT" this summer: the ones who have already seen it 10 or 12 times and can't get enough, and those who have absolutely no idea what it is about.
"RENT" is to Generation X what "Hair" was to the Baby Boomers. The children of the late '60s and '70s believed that if they worked hard and went to college, they would be guaranteed the same American dream that their parents were living. "Hair" was about changing the world; "RENT" is about paying the bills. After $40,000 worth of debt, the best paying jobs they could find were waiting tables or stripping.
Exotic dancer Mimi (Jonna Ahn) acts out her frustration as such - "I wanna commit a crime, wanna be the cause of a fight, I wanna put on a tight skirt and flirt with a stranger. I've had a knack from way back of breaking the rules once I learn the games. We don't need any money, I always get in free." Then there's Benny's (Francis Tau'a) observation, "Do you really want to live in a neighborhood where people piss on your stoop every night? This is Calcutta, Bohemia is dead."
"RENT" might as well be called angst. By the late '90s, Gen X philosophy evolved into: take care of number one, surround yourself with a bubble of close friends and when necessary, be selfish. You only live once. "RENT" is about young people with dreams that have lost faith in America.
"The Generation X Report," based on surveys of Americans born between 1965 and 1981, states that "though stereotyped as a bunch of insecure, angst-ridden, underachievers, most members of Generation X lead active, balanced and happy lives." One of the smallest generations of recent history, Gen X accounts for less than 17 percent of the American population with almost 30 million fewer members than the Baby Boomers.
A major subplot of "RENT" is the AIDS terror of the 1990s. As a Gen Xer, former San Francisco resident, and college student of the early '90s, I can share that I, and everyone I knew at the time, was terrified to have sex. It was not uncommon for a tenth date to take place in a doctor's office for blood tests. It was also common to keep your blood work papers handy when dating.
The ghetto apartment I lived in had three tenants who died of AIDS, like Freddie the landlord, who was once a headliner at Finnochio's. "For Rent" meant death. I became used to seeing people walk down Market Street with an oxygen tank on wheels. A bar at the corner of Market and Castro (with glass walls) was nicknamed "the glass casket."
"RENT" is sad, but it is mostly about the idea that what does not kill you makes me stronger. The score has more in common with Green Day than Broadway, and its young audiences (or youngish in 2013) leave empowered, embracing the idea that you only live once, so live those 525,600 minutes to the fullest.
n Maui OnStage presents the Tony award-winning "RENT," by Jonathan Larson, directed by Steven Dascoulias, choreographed by Sarah Loney, with music directed by Vania Jerome. The cast of 16 features Jonna Ahn, Charles Cook, Kelsey Greenway, Ricky Jones, Kisha Milling, Isaac Rauch, Francis Tau'a and Kalen Willits.
Performances of "RENT" are Friday through Aug. 4. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 3 p.m. Sundays at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku. Reserved seating tickets range from $17 to $28, with a limited number of discounted rush tickets available one-hour prior to each performance. For tickets or more information, call 242-6969 or purchase reserved seats at www.mauionstage.com.
Maui OnStage continues its free theater series, ONO! on Monday with "Sister Ignatius Explains it All To You," by Christopher Durang, whose irreverent comedies are at times controversial, so this show may not be a good fit for younger audiences. The performance is directed by Vinnie Linares and stars Jennifer Rose as the satirical nun that explains Catholic dogma. Free ONO! performances are at 6:30 p.m. every second Monday of the month at the Historic Iao Theatre.
New Zealand's Maori contemporary dance theater, Atamira Dance Company, returns next week to present works that embody the essence of their unique landscape and cultural identity. Atamira's choreographers, dancers and designers reflect a diverse cross-section of voices from both urban and rural backgrounds, telling the stories of Maori people through compelling artistic expression.
* Atamira's performance of "KAHA" is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 18, at the MACC's Castle Theater. There will be a free pre-concert talk at 6 p.m. with Atamira's Artistic Director Moss Patterson. Tickets are $12, $22, $32, with half-price tickets for children available (plus applicable fees). To purchase tickets for any MACC event visit the box office, call 242-7469 or order online at www.mauiarts.org.
Following six exciting weeks of their 2013 westside youth summer theatre camp, Lahaina's Theatre Theatre Maui will present its youth production of "Disney's The Little Mermaid Jr.," directed by Kristi Scott, July 19 through 21.
"Our kids and the creative team have worked so hard to put this show together, and we can't wait to see 'The Little Mermaid, Jr.' on stage," says TTM executive director, Angie Thompson.
Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa's Haleakala Ballroom. Tickets are $5 for children younger than 12, $10 for 12 and older. For more information, call the Theatre Theatre Maui office at 661-1168, or contact Thompson at email@example.com.
The Drama Queen, Kristi Scott and Keyboard Kim, Kim Vetterli are teaming up again to present one final drama/music camp this summer for the keiki of Kihei and beyond!
Kamp Krazy Tales happens at the ProArts Playhouse at the Azeka Shopping Center in Kihei. Classes are from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, July 22, through Friday, July 26, with extended day care available. Tuition is $150 for children ages 5 to 12. Young students will learn drama games and music techniques, culminating with a short performance for parents. Pre-registration is required. No previous experience is necessary. To register or for more information, call 463-6550.
Maui OnStage will be holding auditions for the hilarious American farce, "Love, Sex and the IRS," by William Van Zandt and Jane Milmore, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, July 22, at the Historic Iao Theater.
This is an open audition call, and appointments are not required. All roles are available and include: Jon Trachtman (male, 25-40), Leslie Arthur (male, 25-40), Kate Dennis (female, 25-40), Mr. Jansen (male, 35-60), Floyd Spinner (male, any age), Vivian Trachtman (female, 50-65), Connie (female, 25-40) and Arnold Grunion (male, 30-70).
"Love, Sex and the IRS" will be directed by Lee Garrow, with rehearsals beginning the first week in August. Performances are Sept. 27 through Oct. 6 at the Historic Iao Theater. For more information on auditions and for detailed character listings, visit www.mauionstage.com.