First of all, welcome to the brand new pnhs-sings.com, the internet home of Plymouth North Vocal Music! There is plenty of information to get from this website for students, parents and community members involved in our program here!
In launching a new website, I thought it'd be good to have a first blog entry here to accompany all of the information. And, in announcing our 2015 musical on the same day, I went to Facebook to express my excitement towards our selection, but felt that I could go on for much longer than anyone would want a Facebook post to be. So, here we are!
I am incredibly happy to announce today that this March, the Plymouth High Schools VPA department will be producing Rent: School Edition. This an exciting and, at the same time, a somewhat terrifying endeavor for all of us, and we can not wait to take it on.
Before going into the show, I'd first like to mention our director, Kevin Mark Kline. Kevin is a theatre director in the Boston area who has been directing professionally for 13 years. He has a BFA in Musical Theatre Directing from Boston Conservatory, and I can say from having multiple conversations with him--he gets it. As much as I have enjoyed directing the past two PHS musicals, I am ecstatic to hand over those responsibilities to someone with the experience, education and leadership skills to bring this show and our students to their full potential. Kevin is the real deal, and is going to do fantastic work with our program this winter.
RENT is a sung-through contemporary musical (also known as a rock opera), written by Jonathan Larson, that premiered on Broadway in 1996. It ran for 12 years, and along the way picked up Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Score, Drama Desk awards for Best Musical, Best Music, Best Lyrics, and Best Orchestrations, and some award called a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In 2005, they also made a terrible, terrible movie of it, but we're going to pretend that that never happened.
RENT takes place in the Lower East Side of New York City in the early 1990s. It follows the stories of eight friends in their 20's, trying to be true to themselves and what/who they love in a society and culture that is making that increasingly difficult. The show's anthemic slogan that is repeated throughout the show is "No day but today," and this is the message that we will be working to send to the cast and crew of the production, as well as the community and the audiences of our performances.
RENT: School Edition, which is the production that PHS will be mounting, is a slightly abridged version of the original show. One song is cut entirely (Contact), some songs are shortened or changed for high school voices, and a handful of lines are changed for language purposes, so as to keep the show a bit more PG-13. Two of the main characters are still recovering addicts, four of them are living with HIV, and two of the couples in the show are same-gender, just like in the original production. More importantly, the changes in the script do a great job of making the material more accessible for teenagers, and will allow all involved (including the audience) to leave the production with Jonathan Larson's message.
We as a production team are going into this show with the hopes of raising the bar for every aspect of Plymouth High School theatre, and giving the students an opportunity to explore and express.
This is a show that has changed lives for the better. For some, it made them feel better and more comfortable about themselves. For others, it is what drove them into theatre. For most, it has served as a reminder that our time on earth is limited, and we have to make the most of what we have in the moment with the people that we love and the acts that make us love life. More than anything, we hope to show our students and community the positive power that theatre and art can have when we step out of our comfort zones and push further than we think we can or that we should.
Be on the lookout for parent and community meetings this fall and winter, in which we will be able to discuss the production, and you can gain more insight from myself, Kevin, and the rest of the production staff on how we are handling the material of RENT: School Edition.