Actors longed for roles in 'Rent'

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Before he ever saw the play, Brad King heard the music.

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Kelvin Jenkins (from left), Taylor Medeiros, Charina Baker, Nick Brush and Brad King are among the cast of the Aiken Community Playhouse production of Rent. The show opens May 20. The rights to the show have only recently been made available for community theater groups.   special
special
Kelvin Jenkins (from left), Taylor Medeiros, Charina Baker, Nick Brush and Brad King are among the cast of the Aiken Community Playhouse production of Rent. The show opens May 20. The rights to the show have only recently been made available for community theater groups.

"I was introduced to it through the soundtrack. I was at Francis Marion in 1997, and all of the theater students had it," said King, who plays Mark in the Aiken Community Playhouse version of Rent , which opens May 20.

In the ensuing 14 years, King has seen the play and the movie and waited for his opportunity to take part in the show.

"Any one part would do. The show is all about interpersonal relationships," he said. "Every character has a great range of emotions."

Written by Jonathan Larson, who lived in poverty and died just short of his 36th birthday without seeing it performed on Broadway or knowing its success, Rent is a modern-day version of Puccini's opera La Boheme .

Where tuberculosis was the scourge of Puccini's day, the characters in 1990s New York City deal with the menace of HIV and AIDS. The show ran for 12 years on and off Broadway.

Bradley Watts, who is directing Rent , said it's his dream show to direct.

"I love this show," he said. "It's powerful. It has such a beautiful meaning, and the characters are so well-written."

The show has been a tough one to direct, Watts said. Larson took seven years to write the score for the rock opera.

"This is my first time directing a sing-through musical. The music is very difficult," he said.

Taylor Medeiros, who plays Angel, said he knew the role would be a challenge. Angel's high vocals have required him to work overtime to get in shape for the part he has wanted to play for 12 years.

It's been worth it, he said.

"Angel is the glue who holds family and friends together. I love that," he said.

Rent has an ethnically diverse and devoted cast. Cast members drive from as far away as Thomson and Orangeburg, S.C., to be part of the show.

CHARMAIN Z. BRACKETT/SPECIAL

Onstage

WHAT: Rent

WHEN: 8 p.m. May 20-21, 27-28 and June 3-4 and 3 p.m. May 29. Depending on ticket sales, the show could be held over for the weekend of June 10-11.

WHERE: Aiken Community Playhouse, 126 Newberry St. S.W., Aiken

TICKETS: $20 for adults, $18 for seniors 60 and older, $15 for students, $9 for 12 and younger; (803) 648-1438, www.aikencommunityplayhouse.com


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