by Khori Petinaud
I’m having the time of my life! Except for the driving - I actually hate driving here. But Rent is a dream come true, and I pinch myself daily.
This cast, creative team and crew are unreal, and if you ever told me I’d be here, I’d never believe you! Getting to meet Julie Larson (Jonathan Larson’s sister) and Al Larson (Jonathan’s Father) was definitely a highlight for me, and it’s so beautiful how they’ve taken on his legacy.
Michael Greif, our director, who also directed the original production, as well as Angela Wendt, the original costume designer, are working with us, and it’s been so cool hearing firsthand stories from them about the show. Fun little fact: one of the jackets I wear in the show was from the Rent production that was done in Brazil! Angela told me the story of how they found this jacket that they all loved, but that needed something to make it a bit more edgy. They were having a hard time finding anything to use until one of her assistants brought his grandmother’s button collection and they sewed them on the collar. It’s amazing things like that that continue to remind me of how special this piece is. Every little part of it is unique.
Also, choreographer Sonya Tayeh is the truth! The dancing is exhilarating, and it always is dancing with her. She actually asked me if I’d be interested in doing Rent with her over the summer when we were in the thick of our Boston run of Moulin Rouge. The first thing I remembered thinking when she told me she was doing this was “She’s sooooo perfect for this show!” I wasn’t wrong. Sonya understands humanity through movement in a way that I can’t explain. She just gets it. And she knows how to pull things out of you that you had no idea were there. Her movement and Jonathan Larson’s music are such a wonderful marriage, and it’s been so fun digging in to this material with her.
So far, we’ve touched almost every part of the show, but everything is still changing on the daily so nothing is fully set quite yet. The number we’ve worked on the most is “La Vie Boheme” because it’s such a beast of a song, not to mention it’s one of the most iconic parts of the show. It’s one of the only times that almost the entire cast gets to dance together, so we have a lot of fun getting to all be in one room for a bit.
“La Vie” is about living loud and proud and enjoying every part of your life with no fear. I’ve turned down my fear monitor and I have shocked myself a few times with my lack of inhibition in this process already. This show does that to you, though. It makes you feel like you can fly, and it’s been one of the most freeing experiences I’ve ever felt. Rent means so much to so many people, and I think it’s because it makes everyone feel that way.