ok, i take that back

here's my big secret.  i hate musicals.  i used to perform in them in a past life, but now - since i've become a snooty improvising musician - can't fathom getting involved with one. sounds ridiculous i know, but until about three weeks ago that's kinda how i felt - before we started rehearsing rent.

i acted in a few roles back in the day.  i've been the store manager guy from little shop of horrors, the dad in the sound of music, the kid waiting on the wellth fargo wagon from the music man, and alfalfa in some christmas pageant deal back in the '80s.  our production of rent is the cornerstone of the isu annual veishea celebration.  my good friend don is running the music & singers.  he asked me back when we were both in europe if i'd be interested in helping out.  i agreed, but really only to help out a friend.  these things are a big time suck and are often way too cheesy for my taste.

this show, dating back to 1994, won a pulitzer prize, a slew of tonys, stayed on broadway for 12+ years, and later became a movie.  who knew?  all i had heard about rent was that it was a pop/rock musical riddled with adult themes, and that my man ed green from law & order was in the original company.

i'm running my midi keystation through mainstage on my macbook pro, and i feel like a boss.  a couple of my students (lee, rachel, and kyle) are playing in the band too, so i figured we would slug our way through the first rehearsal and hope for the best. as it turned out, the band was totally into it.  lee has an electric kit augmenting his acoustic drums, rachel is working out her new 5 string bass, and kyle is playing guitar better than i have ever heard.  a few other folks flushed out the ensemble, and then we started to crank out these tunes. a week later, we had a sit down session with the actors. they sang, we played, the vibe was good, and i was hooked.

brad is directing this production, and it's gonna turn out top notch.  he made an ingenious and non-traditional move:  keep the entire cast on stage throughout the production.  they stay in character the entire time and are all completely invested in the group effort.  brilliant.  the band is on stage too, conveniently located next to the stripper pole, which reminds me of this family guy episode.

the students are fantastic.  the singing, the dancing, the costuming, the acting!!!  colin (that guy on the left), in particular, is proving himself to be headed for greatness.  he plays angel, the drag queen street musician who holds this community of troubled dreamers together.  each performer handles their business with integrity and genuine enthusiasm, raising the bar for each other.  that's a vital attribute that i seek when working alongside fellow artists and musicians, the willingness to go the extra mile every single time.  i want to be a part of more projects like this, especially if they can rehearse way less and pay way more.

you should totally go.  buy your tickets here.  it's a production with which i am proud to be associated.  my wife and kids are going next saturday and i bet they'll love it. here's hoping they catch me with my eyes on the music.

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