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Review: Rent at Newcastle Jubilee Theatre

Newcastle Gosforth Jubilee Theatre
Until Saturday 17th September 2016

The hugely successful musical that has entertained the theatre going public for 20 years has now returned to Newcastle with a young, talented and energetic cast doing it justice. The rock opera is still relevant today and it went down a storm with the audience on opening night.

First up though is “where is the theatre”? We don’t normally cover this in a review but it has come up as a question to the preview to the show. The Jubilee Theatre is in the middle of the St Nicholas Hospital complex which is signposted at the traffic lights down Jubilee Road. The direction within the complex are given in the following handy guide: LINK TO SITE DIRECTIONS

Photos: George William Knox
Now back to the musical. Rent was written by Jonathan Larson who based it upon Puccini’s opera La Boheme. The reboot changes the life threatening disease to AIDS but the tales of poverty, protest and trying to survive is very much a strong one. Just like an opera, the production is sung through and all of the story is delivered through the carefully worded songs.

The set design is apparently simple, with it scaffolding and projection screen, but it is extremely effective in helping director & choreographer Bobby Trotter to deliver an effective show.

Photos: George William Knox
The young cast range from sixth formers through to recent graduates and yet the talent and confidence on show belies this youthfulness. The 24 performers create a fabulous sound as they sing the diverse material. Highlights include I’ll Cover You with Angel (Jonny Hill) and Collins (Ed Ross);  Take Me or Leave Me with Joanne (Rachael Bell) and Maureen (Keira Falcus), Without You with Roger (Ollie Cook) and Mimi (Bridget Marsh) and Tango: Maureen with Joanne and Mark (Peter Lynn).  There were a number of great ensemble numbers include the wonderful finale.

A fine band, under musical director Joe Diggle, kept it tight throughout the show.

In terms of acting it felt that the cast had a real energy. They were also able to suggest that there was a real chemistry between the couples. This is something that is often missing on much bigger productions featuring more established names.  There was an empathy with the characters that help make the absurdity of the human condition seem apparently normal. The course that love takes is rarely a straightforward one and they were able to show this between the various couples that spring up during the show.

Rent is an entertaining romp from tremendous cast who gave it their all. The show makes it is well worth seeking the venue out if you haven’t been before, even if the location is outside of Newcastle’s city centre.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver the North East Theatre Guide – follow Stephen at @panic_c_button

On The Web:

Rent is on from Wednesday 14th-Saturday 17th September 2016 and the show starts at 7pm. Tickets cost £8 & £10 and available online from
Venue: The Jubilee Theatre, St Nicholas' Hospital, Jubilee Road, NE3 3XT
Please note that this show contains adult themes and some strong language so is unsuitable for young children (13+ age recommendation)

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