Thursday, June 01, 2017



Being a theater critic, I decided to impart on you these humble observations about a presentation at the Gateway Theater in Bellport, Long Island. It is one of the oldest running theaters on Long Island, dating to the Second World War, at least. A converted barn situated on South Country Road in Bellport, it has for years presented top-notch entertainment on a par with Broadway! However, some of those notches, like Broadways, need to be filled in, not by the acting or costuming or even the music, but by the authors of their works.

The story is based on Puccini's 'La Boheme', 'Rent' relates a story of a year in the life of friends living a Bohemian life in modern day East Village, New York City, 1989-1990. All the classic ambiance of this cold and severe life is in attendance. Heading the group is the narrator, nerdy love-struck filmmaker Mark Cohen; the love of his life is his former girlfriend, Maureen Johnson. Maureen's has a Harvard-educated public interest lawyer and lesbian lover named Joanne Jefferson. Mark's roommate is an HIV-positive musician and former junkie, Roger Davis. Roger's new girlfriend, is an HIV-positive drug addicted S&M dancer, Mimi Marquez. A former roommate of theirs, HIV-positive computer genius Tom Collins. Collins' HIV-positive drag queen street musician/lover Angel, and Benjamin Coffin III, a former member of the group who married for money and has since become their landlord and the opposite of everything they stand for rounds out the players.

The cast is all young people with a ton of talent, ranging from magnificent voices, superhuman dance abilities to wonderful acting. The first half-hour really captured my imagination, appreciation, and admiration for these wonderfully talented performers.

If I had one complaint, it would be that it lasted too long! The amount of raw energy sustained for 2 and ½ hours at the end, gave me a headache. It is an operetta, which means every conversation is sung and that raised the pitch of the audio to its highest.

In spite of this criticism which I think is just personal, I would recommend it to all who can get the opportunity to see it.


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