When Rent opened on Broadway in 1996, it was an immediate hit. The gritty, provocative musical about a tight-knit group of NYC dwellers won the Tony Award for Best Musical and ran for 12 years. In 2005 the show was made into a feature film starring several members of the original Broadway cast, including Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs and Anthony Rapp. Now, Rent is back home in NYC, with an off-Broadway run opening this summer.
The show will be directed by Michael Greif, who directed the original production, but there’s an exciting new member on the creative team: choreographer Larry Keigwin. DS chatted with Keigwin about how he plans to bring a fresh style to the rock operetta.
DS: How’d you get involved in the Rent revival?
Larry Keigwin: I have a little angel in my life, Jeffrey Seller. He’s been a champion of my work for a long time, and he was one of the original producers for Rent. He was also one of the producers for The Wild Party, which I performed in about a decade ago. Since then he has followed my career, and he called me out of the blue a few months ago asking if I wanted to do Rent.
DS: How familiar were you with the show before you started working on it?
LK: I met with Jeffrey and [director] Michael Greif after that original phone call and they asked me if I had seen the show. They immediately said, “If you haven’t seen it, don’t worry, we want to do things a little differently this time. We’d love to have a different voice and vision.” I had seen the show once before, though, when it was on Broadway several years ago. As soon as they offered me a contract I started gathering information about the show and playing around with ideas with my KEIGWIN + COMPANY dancers.
DS: How will this production be different from the Rent we all know and love?
LK: I’m trying to bring more physical energy into the show. I want the cast members traveling through space more. I love the idea of it being like a rock concert and treating the set as a jungle gym that everyone will interact with. It’s going to be energetic and engaging.
Rent begins previews at NYC’s New World Stages July 14.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
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