To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Jonathan Larson’s iconic and cult RENT, the UK’s stages were graced (and are continue being graced) with a tour bursting in memorable number after memorable number that will reignite exactly why the world first fell in love with such an incredible musical.
Though the AIDS crisis may be behind us in 2017, so many element of the show still apply in a 2017-Brexit-filled-Trump-ridden year, with themes of anarchy, revolution, political decay and hope oozing out of every moment of Larson’s landmark piece.
“When they act tough you call their bluff”, the opening number shouts, even reminiscent of the protests that have lines streets across the globe in the first half of this year. But it’s the cast of the current UK tour that’s worth mentioning the most. Billy Callum as Mark is nothing short of extraordinary, In the Heights alum Philippa Stefani makes a perfect Mimi, UK’s Eurovision hopeful Lucie Jones proved as to why she belongs on the stage and Layton Williams lives and breathes as Angel and puts every other staged drag queen to shame (sorry Kinky Boots, Hedgwig and the Angry Inch, La Cage Aux Follies, Pricilla etc etc etc.)
If a UK tour wasn’t enough to over-excite our stagey selves, Fox have announced that RENT will be the next in their series of live broadcasted musicals, following on from their success with Grease and Hairspray. To celebrate the TV network bringing heartbreak directly to your television screens, we had a chat with current Angel, Layton Williams (Billy Elliot, Bad Education, The Car Man, Hairspray UK Tour) about his dream cast.
Angel: Me, of course!
“But if not maybe Todrick Hall would do a fab job. From what I saw he SLAYED as Lola and he has a beautiful voice.”
Collins: Gregory Porter
“His vocals would be iconic singing I’ll Cover You (Reprise)!”
Mimi: Naya Rivera
“I was such a Gleek and I LOVED Naya in it. I think she’d be fab as she’s an amazing all round performer. To have that sass of Mimi but then be able to strip it all back and be vulnerable.”
Roger: Adam Lambert
“His voKILLS are killer and if he really went for it and found the edge in this character I think he’d be brill.”
Mark: Ben Platt
“He’s currently slaying Broadway right now in Dear Evan Hansen and his Dad is producing it so… It kinda makes sense.”
Joanne: Cynthia Erivo
“Now I know most people would naturally thing Maureen for Cynthia but no. She’s super tough (I’ve seen her Instagram vids at the gym) and take no bull!”
Maureen: Lady Gaga
“I mean. Come on. You know it would be a gag. She’s crazy in the best way as is Maureen. It would just work.”
“Just because. Ha!’
RENT is a modern reimagining of Puccini’s opera La Bohème, and tells the story of seven artists and activists struggling to make a living and pursue their dreams while living in New York’s East Village during the nineties. With the televised format on its way, we can’t help but shudder with anticipation. More can be found on the current UK RENT Tour here.