Penang Boy and I consider ourselves certified Rentheads. We certainly sing Rent songs on a regular enough basis to annoy our siblings. And when Penang Boy first told me about how he sat in orchestra seats in a touring Broadway cast of Rent in Singapore, I was so in awe I just wanted to stare at him, and hopefully absorb some of the lingering Rent Rays that might have stayed on his skin. Penang Boy: I know. My skin is radiant and glowing!
Yeah, we consider Rent to be a sacred piece of theatrical work. Therefore, incredibly cheap tickets (Penang Boy: wasn’t incredibly cheap. Just cheap for RENT.) and the chance to see community theater revive our beloved musical sealed the deal for our trip to City Lights Theater. And lo and behold…
A Couple of Character Rundowns:
Roger: The original Roger on Broadway, Adam Pascal, was a wonderful specimen; his gritty voice portrayed a tough yet heartbroken man. It could make some girls crazy, but I will say no more for fear of incurring the wrath of Penang Boy. This actor, however, took the meaning of Roger’s tragic life to soap operatic proportions. When his Phantom-of-the-Opera-esque vibrato reached its final roaring climax, we were clasping each other gasping for breadth as we struggled to not die from laughter.
Penang boy: “Some” girls! Don’t lie! You are in love with Adam Pascal! You want to marry him! Well, anyway, don’t cast an opera wannabe for a rock singing role. (Unless there are no rock singers in San Jose)
Mimi: Someone must have been on drugs when they cast her. Penang boy: Squeaky voice and have a probably could not hear the feedback. Screamed at a nasally voice at loud parts. Gross!)
Angel: An Angel indeed. It’s tough to play a drag queen without seeming like a pure attention seeker, but this actor portrayed Angel and his big well of love to the most genuine degree. Plus he can dance his pants off in heels. Penang Boy: You like him!
Maureen: Although I will always be by far the best Maureen, kudos to this chick for pulling off a great performance. She had the voice and the attitude, not to mention she was really hot. Penang Boy: You played Maureen before. I think you will be a better Maureen.
So there was the extremely inspirational alongside the extremely grotesque when it came to actors. Most of the ensemble had decent vocals and the musicians definitely knew what they were doing. However, the most glaringly disappointing aspect of this production was the menial attention paid to the acting. Such an inspiring musical which covers tough subjects such as heartbreak, poverty, and AIDS requires strong chemistry within the cast to convey its message, but the way the actors delivered their lines as if they memorized them just so they can move on to the next musical number convinced me that City Lights bit off way more than they can chew.
Penang Boy: I was kinda forced into watching this local theater production. From where I was from, local theater is opera in a makeshift stage where actors in painted faces singing at a high pitch voice and use wooden sticks going round and round. So I always had the pleasure of watching awesome professional productions from traveling companies from Australia. This was enriching. It is not a bad experience but certainly, I feel freaking great about myself. I feel that American girl and I should conquer the world with our talents! I still feel everyone should start somewhere. City Lights people, if you are reading this, be heavily critical about yourself. You guys generally sucked! Except Angel, Maureen, Benny and The Musicians.
On the positive side, we learned two things:
1. We are extremely talented people. Penang Boy: Freaking Talented!
2. 40 dollar tickets for professional theater productions are probably worth it. Penang Boy: Erm…