Subscribe to Forte Magazine


Presented by CentreStage. Directed by Paul Watson.
In 1988, playwright Billy Aronson wanted to create a musical based on Puccini’s La Bohème, in which 1890s Paris would be replaced with the rawness and street vibe of 1990s New York. Jonathan Larson, a 29-year-old composer, began collaborating with Aronson on this project. Larson’s inspiration for Rent’s characters and plot elements are drawn directly from La Bohème, the world premiere of which was in 1896, a century before Rent’s premiere in New York. Tuberculosis, the plague of Puccini’s opera, is replaced by HIV/AIDS in Rent.
Larson would not live to see Rent’s success; he died on January 25, 1996. The first preview of Rent was cancelled and instead, friends and family gathered at the theatre where the actors performed a sing-through of Rent in Larson’s memory. The show premiered as planned and quickly gained popularity fuelled by enthusiastic reviews and the recent death of its composer. It proved extremely successful during its off-Broadway run, selling out all its shows at the 150-seat New York Theater Workshop.
Rent is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Rent has become a cultural phenomenon with songs that rock and a story that resonates with audiences of all ages. It tells the story of one year in the life of a group of bohemians in East Village, New York. During that year, or “five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes”, the group deals with love, loss, AIDS and modern day life, woven into a powerful and moving story.
This Geelong production has been created by CentreStage, a locally-based theatre company, in which the participants, actors and crew alike, are all volunteers. The talented Paul Watson, Director, has directed this show six times, as well as having directed more than 60 other amateur and professional shows. The amazing, dedicated cast are no strangers to the Geelong stage and are excited and thrilled to be bringing this production to local audiences.
Major supporters of Rent include our Mayor, Darryn Lyons, Paula Kontelj, Sophie and Dale, and Chantell and Steve (Blockheads!)
Profits from the show will be donated to GASP – a not-for-profit organization designed to help teenagers and adults come to terms and deal with their sexuality. Over the last five years, CentreStage has donated more than $80,000 to various charities including Relay For Life, St Laurence, Beyond Blue and Geelong Hospital.
So, “how do you measure a year in the life? How about love? Seasons of love.”
When&Where: GPAC. June 27-July 12. Tix from GPAC 5225 1200 or
Written by Sue Rawkins