The Edinburgh University Footlights bring energy and stunning musical performances to this modern musical.
From the outset, the music and vocals are incredibly well performed. There is a live band on stage and the singers and musicians blend perfectly. The band play brilliantly throughout.
In terms of singing, the harmonies by Adam Makepeace as Mark and Ben Greunberg as Roger in the opening song Rent and later in What You Own are pitch perfect, and individually, they cover the range of songs throughout the show with great strength and clarity.
The cast are impressive and embody the characters with palpable chemistry. The varied and complex emotions of the roles are tackled well. Imogen Challen as Maureen shines with electric charisma in Over the Moon and Fraser Mycroft as Tom Collins in the reprise of I’ll Cover You brings true emotion to the song. Rachael Brown as Mimi also perfectly combines vulnerability and wildness to offer a well-rounded performance.
The ensemble perform with great energy and powerful vocals. However, they sometimes lack some of the grimy sass the narrative requires. Seasons of Love is a highlight of the show, with the harmonies once again being beautifully performed to create a full-bodied sound.
The choreography is well thought out but the over ambitious dances sometimes take away from the music and narrative which could easily stand on their own. Today 4 U, however, with its difficult combination of dance, drumming and singing is excellently performed by Gordon Stackhouse as Angel.
There are persistent sound issues with microphones not working or being switched on too late throughout. This leads to important moments in the story being entirely lost, including Tom Collins and Joanne’s introductions. Similarly, the sound on one of the most poignant songs, Will I, is compromised and only partially audible.
Rent is a deeply emotional and moving musical and Edinburgh University Footlights do justice to both the characters and the songs, only faltering with some unfortunate sound issues and overwrought choreography.