City Adventure: RENT
The Lower Ossington Theatre is one of Toronto’s better kept secrets. The incredibly intimate theatre always hosts a season of fan favourites and no matter whom they cast; we have never once been disappointed with a production here. Last week we celebrated Veronica’s birthday by sitting front row for their production of RENT, easily one of our favourite plays ever.
Seriously, we have seen RENT every single time it’s played in Toronto (except for one performance that we had to miss because of a family emergency), so to say we’re familiar with the play is a huge understatement. We could probably recite it word for word on a whim without blinking an eye. Being so familiar likely makes us harsher critics, so when we say that RENT was great, it means a lot.
The cast was full of fairly new faces that we haven’t seen before, which always adds a new dimension to a show we’ve seen time and time again. This time around, Sami Soloway was a much stronger Mimi than we’ve seen in the past, which makes a huge impact on the entire show. Her voice was incredible and how she dominated that stage in those heels was inspiring.
Aaron Sax reprised his role as Mark. We saw him the last time RENT was at LOT and it’s starting to feel like Sax was born to play this role, he just seems so comfortable and natural. We’ve also seen Andrew Ball before, in Spring Awakening in 2011 also at LOT, so it was nice to see him on stage again as Roger, one of our favourite characters. He had the moody badboy act down pat.
We’re usually always blown away by Angel, the flamboyancy and general happiness that exerts from this role always ends up doing great things, but this time it was Isaac Bell as Tom Collins who stole the show for us this year. We first fell in love with Bell during his performance in The Wedding Singer at Hart House Theatre. This boy has charm! And a bucketful of talent. It’s hard not to be mesmerized by him and the emotion he expresses when he’s on stage. And he seems so humble doing it. We hope to see much more out of him in the future.
The sexual tension between characters was overwhelming, specifically the relationship between Jacqueline Martin and Darcy Stewart’s Maureen and Joanne. There was such intensity and passion. And we applaud the way Sax put himself in the middle of both women. In a lot of productions it never seems that believable that Mark had a pre-existing relationship with Maureen, or that he and Joanne develop any kind of rivalry/understanding. But Martin, Stewart and Sax bring the whole thing together with a great chemistry that we’ve been anxious for.
Honestly, we can’t say enough good things about this performance. Time and time again LOT proves they know how to pick an amazing cast and put on amazing performances. RENT runs until June 8, tickets are still available.