Doherty and Long's vocal and acting chops as the lesbian secondary characters end up overshadowing the other two principal couples in Rent. Tom Collins's cuddles with Angel take a few scenes before starting to seem relaxed and real. Their relationship takes off from love at first sight, and although Maurice E. Parent's Collins doesn't seem quite as immediately keen on Angel as he ought to be, he and Sulfaro pull out all the stops when it counts. In the background of Mimi's tender ballad "Without You," a now-hospitalized Angel is lovingly, genuinely carried to bed by a disconsolate Collins, a moment powerful enough to make one forgive their stagy, unnatural embrace at the end of "I'll Cover You."

Eve Kagan's Mimi and Robert St. Laurence's Roger also lack charisma during the first act, particularly when Mimi begs Roger for a date in her howling rock number "Out Tonight." The two push each other back and forth in a combination of sexual frustration and anger, but Evett's blocking reads here as more disturbing violence than sexy confrontation. The pair does summon the right kind of desperate intensity in the second act, with Kagan's Mimi devolving into zombie-like heroin addiction and St. Laurence's Roger too self-involved to notice. By the time Mimi collapses on the apartment floor in her final scene, Kagan — aided by expert make-up artistry — truly does appear to be on death's door, and St. Laurence's desperate clinging to her wasted frame has all the passion that the pair's initial interactions lacked. Unfortunately, St. Laurence's mimed guitar playing (along with a player in the pit) prove a constant, nagging distraction, particularly in the crucial moment at the end of the show when Roger's musicianship is meant to bring Mimi back to life.

Overall, the actors have the huge vocal range required of nearly every character in the show. Unfortunately, the Mosesian's sound system had more trouble handling the highs and lows. Larson's piece jumps from loud, high belting to low, quiet lines, and the sole booth technician could not keep up with the constant dynamic shifts, and the show was generally plagued by audio problems. Was amplification even necessary? Occasional inaudibilty would have been preferable to spiking high-note feedback. Despite this production's shortcoming, the cast is talented enough to satisfy a Rent junkie's need for a fix. But these performers deserved better than the amplified snaps, crackles, and shrieks that accompanied their singing.

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  Topics: Theater , New York City, Arsenal Center for the Arts, Benjamin Evett,  More more >
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