The 25th Anniversary of Broadway opening!
MU Theatre

Director, Joy Powell
Musical Director, Brett Kristofferson
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson

Set in the East Village of New York City in the early 1990s, Rent is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, this iconic musical shaped a generation of audiences and taught us all to measure our life in love. 2021 is the 25th anniversary of the play’s Broadway opening.
Tickets $20

Rhynsburger Theatre
7:30 pm: Nov 4-6 and 11-13 2:00 pm: Nov. 7 and 14
11:00 am: Spotlight performance Nov 10


Hello and welcome back to the Rhynsburger Theatre! We simply cannot contain our excitement to have the opportunity to perform live for you! The cast, crew and production team have approached this process with so much heart and gratitude. We are thrilled to be back, in person doing what we were made to do: create theatre!
I’d like to share a bit of my personal history with this show. I had the amazing opportunity to see the original Broadway cast of RENT. In that moment, as I watched from my standing room only position in the back of orchestra, I knew history was happening right before my eyes. That history comes rushing forward to this moment 25 years later.

Since its inception this story has given so many folx a safe place for their voice to resonate and part of the representation they deserve. We are truly honored to share this story and to be a part of that work of building authentic community. Now, to be clear, this show is not perfect. It is a period-piece and representative of time in which it was written. While our understanding of sexuality, gender and even the ideas around disease have progressed since 1990, the heart of the show still has so much to teach us. I have watched these songs and characters bring our community even closer together. Old friendships have been strengthened and new ones have formed, creating a space where everyone has a place to belong, just as they are. We are living our own season of love. Thank you for joining us for this journey of realization and connection.

I’ll end with my favorite quote from the show: “The opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation.” I truly believe that the remedy for so much of what ails us as humans can be found in creating something new. This can be a friendship, art, justice, or a safe place for others to belong.
Thank you for joining us!

            —Dr. Joy Powell



I Hope This Program Note Finds You Well

Since around March of 2020, I have found myself writing the sentence, “I hope this finds you well” an inordinate amount of times knowing full well that, in many cases, this was not the reality for the recipient of my words. As we have worked to collectively conjure this iteration of Jonathon Larson’s 1996 musical Rent, we cannot help but to be relentlessly struck by its various resonances echoing from over 25 years ago. Insomuch as Rent is seemingly haunted by the lives and deaths of those claimed by both the HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 pandemics, it also gestures toward the celebration of community, solidarity, and joy that we as humans desperately cling to.

Due to his untimely death before opening night, Larson wrote into a future that he would not be a part of wherein a new generation of folks would find an exciting new liberatory potential in theatre, seeing themselves and the stories they needed told in a rock opera. Rent has privileged representation of those who have been pointedly hidden in theatrical narratives and through its lottery program, opened up a radical space to decrease patrons’ financial barriers to accessing live theatre. The musical has manifested itself on the global stage with theatre productions, film interpretations, and a live TV debut. It is a cultural product that has transcended its original medium and many assumed limits proposed by a play set in the 90’s.

However, as theatre artists, we often pose and attempt to answer the question, “Why this play, now?” And for me, the answer is easy. In times of pervasive illness and loss, we are collectively forced to lean into transience and the relatively temporary reality of the time we spend together and a sometimes overwhelming lack of control. That is to say, our lives, composed of those sung hundreds of thousands of minutes, can still feel all too short. However, Rent reminds us that we have the tools to counter this call of despair. We might not be able to buy a sense of control or love or healing or the comfort hope so many of us crave...
But for the runtime of this show, we invite you to rent it.

        —Dr. Les Gray