Cornell College presents the rock musical ‘Rent’

The defiant rock musical that changed the landscape of American Theatre is coming to Cornell College Oct. 25–28.  

Set in the East Village of New York City in the ’90s, “Rent” is about reaching for love in the midst of tragedy, defying the odds, and living for today. Based loosely on Puccini’s “La Boheme,” “Rent” follows seven artists as they struggle to survive under the shadow of HIV and AIDS, poverty, bigotry, homophobia, and addiction. Through joy and loss, celebration and heartbreak, these artists come together as they learn to face the future and measure their lives not in possessions, but in love.

The cast of rent sings on stage

“Our current political climate makes this musical as provoking and emotional today as it was when it first premiered,” says Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance Janeve West, who directs the musical. “The set is stunning and the voices will have you on your feet, but it is the story of opening yourself to love that will resonate in today’s divisive climate.”

Hitting Broadway in 1996, Rent” quickly became a pop-cultural phenomenon with its in-your-face discussion of the ’90s AIDS crisis, rock anthems aplenty, romance, loss, humor, and the feel of a generation battling against a culture prone to selling out and giving in. Winner of a Tony Award for Best Musical, book writer, and lyricist, Jonathan Larson, went on to win a Pulitzer Prize in Drama for writing “Rent.”

Featuring a cast of 16 campus and community members, this production will also include a surprise cameo appearance. Audiences are invited to arrive early to enjoy the cash bar, provided by Bon Appétit. On Thursday, Oct. 25, the audience is also invited to attend a post-show talk-back with area experts as we discuss the present-day impact of the themes and topics within this production.

The creative team for “Rent” also includes music direction by Janelle Lauer and choreography by Dance Artist in Residence Alvon Reed. Costume design is by Jenny Nutting Kelchen and scenic design is by guest designer Matt Allar. Projections and lighting are by Professor of Theatre and Dance Scott Olinger.

“Rent” runs one weekend only, Oct. 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 27 at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 28, at 2 p.m. in Kimmel Theatre on the Cornell College campus. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, students, and youth, and free for Cornell faculty, staff, and students with ID. Tickets can be reserved by calling 319.895.4293 or e-mailing Reservations are strongly encouraged. This production is intended for mature audiences.

Parking is available in the lot behind and to the south of the theater at the corner of College Boulevard and Summit Avenue.