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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Emory pays her 'Rent' (first in a series)

Photo by Daniel Weiss 11C

Read part 2 ...

It’s not often that you get to say you’re living a dream you’ve had since your summers at Jewish overnight camp. But thanks to Theater Emory, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

My name is Becky Herring 08C and I’m both an alumna of the Emory College of Arts and Sciences and a full-time staff member in the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. When I heard that Theater Emory was doing RENT (In Concert), I immediately had flashbacks of doing “Take Me or Leave Me” at numerous Camp Louise talent shows before I even understood that the two women singing to each other were lovers … give me a break, I was 9.

Based on Puccini’s opera, La Bohème, the smash hit Broadway musical RENT follows a bohemian group of young New York artists and musicians struggling to survive during the height of the AIDS epidemic.

So I haven’t auditioned for a musical in seven years. You can be a confident stage performer but when it comes time to audition you’re reduced to your fourth-grade self delivering a report on a book you haven’t read, worried that, suddenly for no explainable reason, you’re going to burst into flames. Yes, it’s that bad. But the actual audition was a lot less stressful because everyone was so nice … and because it lasted all of five minutes.

I was cast as Joanne Jefferson, a gay Ivy-league educated lawyer. She spends the majority of the show struggling to stay connected to her girlfriend Maureen Johnson, a flirtatiously free-spirited performance artist who used to date another main character Mark Cohen (all of the characters are connected in some way throughout the show).

I had no idea what to expect from the rehearsal process, especially because this is a concert production meaning songs would be cut and there would be very little blocking.

The best thing I can say about what to expect from the performance now that I’ve been through a week of rehearsals is this:

Throw away your recording cuz this ain’t the Broadway show.

Now to some people this can be difficult because they grew up with the 1996 recording--myself included. But it is so much clearer to me now that what we’re creating is unique.

Doing a concert production means we’re not telling the story to each other, we’re telling it directly to the audience and bringing them into the story with us. Over the next three weeks of rehearsal, we’re going to spend every minute communicating why that is going to make it so much more powerful.

And I'll be communicating my experiences with you here on EAAvesdropping.

Until then, if you’re wondering why your local Publix is out of honey and tea bags … you’ll know why.

-- Becky Herring 08C, events coordinator, Schwartz Center for Performing Arts

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post, Becky! As a Renthead, I fully understand how accepting a different incarnation of the show can prove difficult for fans and yet am still excited to see where you (theatre Emory) are going to go with Larson's masterpiece. I await the show with bated breath. Good luck!