Spellbinding RENT at Bridge Players Theatre Company

Tonight’s performance of RENT at Bridge Players Theatre Company…oh…where to begin. I guess I’ll start with some adjectives: Awesome! Amazing! Energetic! Provocative! Spellbinding! A production that is everything Jonathan Larson intended…and perhaps more. Tragic and uplifting at the same time.

In the director’s notes, Chris Focarile tells us of his RENT experience. He wants to convey to us (the audience) the feelings he had of that experience by making us feel as if we were living it as he did…seeing and feeling it thru his eyes. He has created a set which allows for this to happen. The seats are placed in a an angular horseshoe fashion and an additional small stage placed forward which he uses to bring some of the action closer to the audience, right into our laps and the effect is stunningly brilliant. It was very interesting to see and hear the audiences responses to this. We were all seeing and feeling it, not only through Focarile’s eyes but through our own. He presents to us a first class production with no awkward scene changes¬†(one of my pet peeves) the action just continues to flow allowing us to be caught up and mesmerized by it.

On stage are fourteen very talented actors, not a weak link among them. Every actor on the stage puts forward high energy and passion for their character. And the voices…again just brilliant, each and every one of them! If I don’t mention actors by name I trust they will not be slighted as they all were beyond wonderful.

Matt Dotzman as Mark Cohen was just plain awesome, demonstrating just the right temperament, as our narrator for the evening. Mike Reisman as Roger, well cast and so believable. Mike Wemer as Tom Collins delivered one of the best performances on the stage. Kiara Rodriguez as Joanne, another OMG moment: that voice! I want to hear more. She definitely tangoed into our hearts. Leilah Murphy as Mimi..I was so glad she ‘came out’ tonight…what a wonderful performance; sexy hot yet lost and so vulnerable. And speaking of sexy, Jonathan Mosesku as Angel worked that role like nobody’s business. Amanda Frederick did not just play a character but…is Maureen. Such energy. Brian Rothman was always in character no matter what role and always entertaining. Dennis Tolentino in multiple roles was terrific in all but especially as “The Man’. Kori Rife as Alexi Darling, gave a wonderfully squeakily annoying performance. Thanks to Gina Petti for the wonderful choreography, as well as an entertaining and energetic performance. Zack Treusch, Amber Stolarski and Toni Walker-Stanley all turn in good solid performances. Kudos to Diana Dohrmann, Musical Director as well as to Jeffrey Rife for set design and….heck, to anyone involved with this production…my sincere thanks for a production I won’t soon forget.

Bridge Players Theatre Company
February 6 – 21, 2015
Broad Street United Methodist Church
36 East Broad Street
Burlington, NJ

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Arlene Price Kohler

Arlene Price Kohler

Arlene has been involved in local theater for the past 15 years primarily as a costume designer but also as a parent, friend patron, audience member; trying her hand at directing, stage managing, set design and always as a 'backstage' director and critic. Arlene stepped into the theater world by accident when her kids told her to do something creative or go crazy. And so she did both...stepped into the theater world and was crazy about it! Arlene's costume design background, a B.S. in fashion design, working as a designer for children's wear and six years as a design professor at Tracey Warner School of Fashion Design in Philadelphia served her well. Winning critical acclaim for her first show, Cinderella, at the Open Air Theater in Washington's Crossing Park, Arlene has continued to design and make costumes for many of the local theater companies, among them Playful Productions, ActorsNET, Yardley Players, Premiere Productions, Off Broadstreet and Langhorne Players.

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