Related Blog Post: Manila's Essential Guide to Rent The Musical
It was a good show last night with awesome performances from Carla Guevara-Laforteza as Maureen and newcomer Job Bautista as Angel Dumott Schunard. Maureen's Over the Moon performance was very memorable, especially when she encouraged the crowd to MOO with her (with her facial expression resembling that of a person suffering from loose bowel movement). Angel's performance was "orgasmic" and he assumed the role like a theater veteran. His chemistry with OJ Mariano as Tom Collins was an instant hit with the audience because it was very believable.
The ensemble cast did a great job as well. Our favorite was Johann Dela Fuente's "Honest Living" scene. We also liked Raul Montesa, Gary Junsay and Mark Tayag's various mini-skits throughout the play. Well done, guys!
The two-storey Rent set was impressive, and I would argue it is a lot better than the previous Rent sets. It was obvious though that the cast did not have much time practicing with the actual set, so they need to improve their blockings for the opening night on Friday.
It was a tough crowd last night, with every media outfit represented at the show, plus RENT fanatics who have watched the play more than once (even as much as six times!). Some were disappointed because the cast lacked energy and was not able to engage the crowd immediately. Some of the cast members were singing songs from the heart, but seemingly without any context or angst of a desperate artist or a person with HIV.
Specifically, I think Mark Cohen was not really able to connect with the audience in the opening scene. His face was a bit blank and he was singing through the lyrics of the songs like it was a concert. He needs to grow into the role and really immerse himself in the angst of the '90s. In short, walang angas.
Mimi Márquez, played by Nicole Asensio, was lustfully sexy -- I think she is the sexiest Mimi among those who played it before in Manila. However, she really had no chemistry with Roger Davis, as played by Gian Magdangal. They appeared to be like two people in love, but without the soul or passion of a person truly in love -- it was not believable. The buzz was that Gian's special someone, Sheree, was watching the show that night. If you look at her, she looks exactly like Mimi (with the curly hair and sexy outfit).
Here is a clip from the RENT Press Preview last night:
So, is it worth watching the show? How does it compare with previous Rent shows?
A Maven Secrets friend who watched the show more than six times (he would watch it every time there is a new cast) said, it fails in comparison to previous RENT shows.
For me, it is just a question of time before Fred Lo really owns the role of Mark Cohen, just like how JM Rodriguez did 10 years ago or maybe even better. Also, the key to Rent 2010's success is Roger and Mimi's believable, passionate and romantic love story that really connects with the audience. We need to feel the love, the angst of being in love (in this case, with a junkie), and the sorrow of losing someone you love to a dreaded disease.
For those who are watching it for the first time, it is highly recommended! For those RENT fanatics out there, better watch it during the last RENT shows on Feb. 28 and 29.
I'm watching it again this coming Saturday. I'm absolutely excited to see Carla's MOO performance, the La Vie Boheme scene and the gay churva of Angel!
Live an Awesome Life,
Founder and Digital Publisher
P.S. Please post your own reviews of RENT in the comments section. Rent Manila opens on February 5, Friday!