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Shadowbox Live is up for ‘Rent’

Courtesy of Shadowbox Live

Shadowbox Live, a theater company based out of Easton Town Center, is bringing its version of the award-winning musical “Rent” to Columbus beginning March 6.

“‘Rent’ tells the story of a group of young Bohemians struggling to live and love in modern New York City,” according to the Shadowbox website.

It is about a group of young people who don’t quite have a handle on the way the world works or the best way to set themselves up for success, said J.T. Walker, the actor playing Benny in this production. They are impoverished and some are dealing with AIDS. They only have a short amount of time to cope with those things, he said.

Many elements of the show will remain the same as the Broadway version, but Shadowbox will put its own twist on the performance.

“We can’t ever seem to do anything without putting our own twist on it,” said Steve Guyer, CEO and executive producer of Shadowbox. “There were a few things in the Broadway version that I wasn’t crazy about.”

This version of “Rent” will be more focused on the characters and the humanity of the play, rather than the costumes and sets used in other productions of the show, he said.

“I think what’s really interesting in our take is that we’re really finding the reality in the show,” said Nikki Fagin, who plays Mimi in the musical. “It’s not a knock-off like most productions are.”

Walker agreed.

“We made some changes to make it our own,” he said. “If you just parrot what has already been done, you’re not doing anything noteworthy.”

Guyer said there were two factors that led to the decision to of “Rent” as the company’s next musical.

“One: the audience really wanted to see it,” he said. “And two: there are only so many rock-based musicals, and since this one just recently became available it seemed like the obvious choice.”

Auditions for the show began in-house, Guyer said.

“We have 16 full-time artists,” he said. “We mostly work within that context and then audition more broadly.”

Guyer said they didn’t stick to the typical role definitions of the characters when choosing people for parts.

“I bear in mind who will give the best performance,” he said. “We didn’t pay attention to the traditions of the roles.”

For those only familiar with the comedic side of Shadowbox, this play might seem like a confusing choice for their next production.

“We’re a very versatile company in a lot of ways, and to try and pigeonhole us into one category is entirely incorrect,” Fagin said.

“Rent” is scheduled to open on March 6 at 2:30 p.m. The show will play twice every Sunday through April 17, with the second show beginning at 7 p.m. each night.

Tickets for students are $20, and the best way to order them is online at shadowboxlive.org or by calling the box office at 614-416-7625.


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