By Lauren Duffy
The Tony Award winning musical “Rent” is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with another national tour. One of its stops along the way will be the Tilles Center on Sunday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. Even though the show is sold out, a limited number of tickets are being held for students. Tickets can be purchased at the Tilles Center box office, online, or by calling the box office at 516-299-3100.
Jonathan Larson’s rock musical “Rent” first premiered on Broadway on April 29, 1996. Based on the Puccini opera “La Boheme,” the rock musical modernizes the opera’s content. “Rent” is set against the backdrop of the ‘90s AIDS virus as a group of New York musicians struggle to make ends meet while finding love and themselves.
William Biddle, the new executive director of the Tilles Center, has seen numerous productions of “Rent.” “The issues presented in the show are real life issues and the theatre should be a mirror on our society,” he said. Biddle alluded to the idea that not all performances have to be feel-good, fantasy, or romance. The mature themes in this musical challenge audiences “to think and reflect on the themes and not just hum some pretty show tunes in the car on the way home.”
Biddle, who began his job in January 2016, hopes to build a younger audience for the Tilles Center over the course of his career. When asked about the expected audience for the November performance, Biddle said, “The show will draw a much younger audience.”
Aside from the controversial content, the award winning musical score has a wide range of appeal to audiences. Kevin Hansen, an actor at StageLight Entertainment, has a high opinion of Rent. “I think Rent was a theatrical revolution,” he said. “The content of the piece brought so many issues to light in a forum that had previously avoided such dark topics. The score is exciting and bold and beautifully conveys the show’s message.”
According to www.stagelightent.com, StageLight Entertainment is “the off-Broadway theater of Long Island.”
With a completely sold out show, it seems the only place to find tickets now is through online sellers. The tickets available on Vividseats. com are selling for up to $369 each. Stubhub.com is offering its last pair of tickets for $399 per seat.
Students were shocked to hear how high the prices were climbing for the Nov. 6 performance. Junior public relations major, Claire Kennedy, thought that $400 for one ticket “is absurd. I would never pay that much.” Fortunately, LIU students don’t have to. The Tilles Center still has some semi-obstructed view tickets available at the Box Office for $15 with a student discount. According to Biddle, those last few tickets aren’t being advertised so students can have the opportunity to see what he says should be an outstanding performance.
Rent will be performed for one night only on Sunday, Nov. 6. If every performance is sold out, as this one is, the 20th anniversary tour of “Rent” will be a victory.