Last night's opening of RENT at the arboretum caused quite a stir among the crowd gathered at the arboretum, and before all was sung and done, there were shouts, whistles, standing ovations, and cheers from the audience that seemed to relish every moment of the blockbuster musical. Director Tracey Bonner and vocal director Mark Calkins are to be congratulated for all the bobbing of the heads and tapping of toes that was going on throughout the musical marathon.
Before the show itself took stage, Tedrin Blair Lindsey introduced performances by Amanda Balltrip and Mary-Hollis Hundley in a Bohemian rhapsody of sorts. Balltrip and Hundley delighted the crowd with arias under a charming tented area that offered an enticing taste of wine, cheese along with selections from La Boheme, the Puccini opera from which Jonathan Larson derived his Pulitzer and Tony award winning adaptation.
This inspirational and touching story of misunderstood artists and their struggle to survive is timeless, but it couldn't come at a better time. As July comes to a close and makes way for August, our season of fun in the sun is almost through, and we are reminded that vaycay is almost done, and we must prepare our hearts and minds for all the hope that transition brings.
Despite a few glitches that were bound to happen, minor snafus that nobody but a pampered party pooper would amplify and emphasize, last night's production of RENT was truly an example of what can happen when people put their ego aside and join a troupe of performers. There were many stars out last night, those who were singing and dancing, those who were the musical accompanists, those who work behind the scenes to bring quality entertainment to our area continually, season after season. These folks do it for little or no pay, they put their hearts and souls into each detail - because they are passionate about art and theatre and music and song - and it shows.
We are fortunate to have an abundance of talent here in the Bluegrass -- and by the by, that is something I have always known and never doubted, not for a minute, I cover the arts a lot, after all, here in my lil ol' KimmyVille blog -- but when the fine artists in our midst are given the proper venue and afforded the right opportunity, local appreciation is very solid and visible and audible. You can see it, you can hear it, but better than all that, you can feel it.
SummerFest organizers are to be commended with such a fine musical extravaganza, and last night as people cheered and stood and wiped tears away, the ardor and applause for their efforts filled the arboretum.
RENT will run through Sunday. Gates open at 7; show begins at 8:45. Be there to take the journey with the cast and crew and you, too, will have a transformational experience, I just know it!