SAN MARCOS — March 17, It was a boring Friday night. I had made no plans and things were looking pretty dire, but just as I was beginning to settle in for a night of mindless gaming, the stars aligned and a news assignment fell into my lap. Review “RENT.”
On March 10, Palomar theatre opened its doors for the debut of its latest show, a rendition of the award-winning rock musical “RENT.” The show has performed a total of seven times through March 19, at the Howard Brubeck theatre.
Admittedly, I had no plans of attending before accepting this assignment. I don’t typically go to performances by myself and I had never seen any version of “RENT” before. But I had heard good things about this performance. So I had reason to believe that at the very least, it would be a good way to kill time. By the end of the night, I was slapping myself in the face for being so dismissive.
With a deadline on my shoulders and word-of-mouth recommendation in mind, I made my way to the Howard Brubeck theatre. When I arrived, there was a small line out front waiting for tickets, and a few people waiting in the lobby, about what I expected from a community college production. I made my way inside and to my surprise, the entire front half of the auditorium was full and the back half was filling up with people still coming in behind me.
The audience was buzzing and there was an air of excitement as I took my seat. A wave of cheers and applause filled the room as Director Michael Mufson stepped on stage to introduce the show. What followed was a passionate performance full of joy, heartbreak, and pure unadulterated fun.
From the start, the performance pulled me in with charismatic performances and catchy tunes. While Finn Proctor and Jacob Reiss, as Roger and Mark respectively, served as the leads, the musical’s large ensemble cast had no shortage of standouts. Every cast member had their moment to shine throughout the show, seemingly competing to see who could shine the brightest.
The chemistry between the cast was palpable as they performed, with too many stunning moments to recount in full. From the enchanting romance between Mimi and Roger (Played by Maika Parks and Finn Proctor) in “Light My Candle,” to the tense back and forth between Joanne and Mark (Elle Bolton and Jacob Reiss) during “Tango Maureen.”
As far as individual performances, two standouts were Lance Holmes and Angelo Cabuguas. Holmes stole the show several times as Angel with the fierce bravado of the greatest drag queens, while Cabaguas delivered a heartbreaking goodbye to Angel as Tom Collins in “I’ll Cover You – Reprise.” The two also performed amazingly as a duo, at times it was hard to feel like they weren’t the main characters.
While the performers were the focal point, every aspect of the show was expertly put together. The set was eye-catching, and despite its minimal nature, there was always a distinct sense of place. The orchestra led by Lyndon Pugeda performed beautifully. If I had to nitpick, the only flaw in the production (or at least the performance I attended) was the sound mixing. The band at times overpowered the singing making some songs not come through as clearly as they could have.
This is a minor gripe though, no amount of noise could drown out the insane amount of star power present on that stage. The cast more than earned the standing ovation they received at the end of their amazing performance. I went home excited to see what kind of jaw-dropping performances the theatre department would produce next. 10 out of 10.
- Rent Crowd: Mauricio Velasquez/The Telescope | All Rights Reserved
- RENT closeup.jpg: Mauricio Velasquez/The Telescope | All Rights Reserved