No Day But Today: THS Thespians Leave Lasting Impression on Community

Kevin Pacelli ’14
Co-Editor in Chief

For the THS Thespians, saying that the road to performing Rent was a long one would be a vast understatement. Faced with controversy and pressed for time, it was clear that putting on this production was going to be quite an undertaking. In the end, though, the cast and crew together managed to put on a show that was nothing short of spectacular.

Written by Jonathan Larson, Rent focuses on the struggles that a group of friends face over the course of a year in New York City. Centering on the issues of poverty, drug abuse, and the AIDS virus, the musical opens its audiences’ eyes to a life that many people do not even know about, let alone live through.

Even before the cast came out onto the stage, audiences were transported back to New York City at the end of the millennium by the set itself. Designed by senior Beena Jacob, the stage was prepared to appear exactly as one would expect the city to look at the time.

“The inspiration from this set truly came from images of alphabet city circa 1989,” says Jacob. “With this set, it was all about collaboration, paying attention to detail (considering that it would be looked at the entire show) and carrying out the theme of ‘trashy perfection.’”

The transportation to the 1980s setting is complete when the cast enters. The story opens as Mark Cohen (played by senior Michael Ell) begins filming a documentary that will trace the events of the next 365 days. The opening number, titled “Rent”, sets the tone for the adversity faced by nearly every character in the play. The viewer quickly sees that life in this Alphabet City of New York is not an easy one to live.

It becomes evident from early on that several of the characters in the show are burdened by the AIDS virus. One such character, the weathered musician Roger Davis (sophomore Zac Gottschall), is faced not only with his health condition but also with inner conflict as a new love interest named Mimi Marquez (sophomore Ava Gallo) comes into his life.

“Roger is a very complex guy,” says Gottschall when asked to describe his character. “He struggles between his love for Mimi and his fear of losing another lover while at the same time is trying to write one great song to leave behind before he dies.”

Roger is not the only one who struggles emotionally throughout the course of the play. Faced with adversity in the form of financial obstacles, tragedy, and lost love, these close-knit friends develops as characters through difficult times as the story progresses.

Perhaps it is this close bond between the characters that the THS Thespians can connect with most. They, too, have formed strong connections with each other along the journey to putting this production on the Trumbull High School stage.

Several members of the cast and crew have stated that this particular group is closer than other ones that they have been a part of. Senior Larissa Mark, who was instrumental in keeping the production alive during the controversial period of debate, says that several factors contributed to the strength of the group.

“This cast was a lot smaller than ones we’ve had in the past, but it allowed us to be a lot closer,” says Mark. “We also had the drive to show we earned this show.”

For Mark and many of the other cast and crew members, putting on this performance was particularly special because it was a culmination of their efforts, before and after production had begun. Their work was paid off with high levels of praise from the Trumbull community, but perhaps the best praise of all came from a particularly special crowd.

“On opening night we met Jonathan Larson’s father Al, his sister Julie, and some of his friends who inspired the characters such as Jonathan Burkhart and Victoria Hoffman,” said Mark, discussing the special guests that came to see the first public performance of the show. “It’s wonderful to hear praise for our work, but to hear the people whose lives are being portrayed in this show being moved by our performance, I don’t think there could be a higher praise.”

The curtains have closed on the THS production of Rent, but not before the cast and crew put on a show that amazed people of all ages within the community and beyond. For many reasons, it was certainly a performance that will be remembered in Trumbull for years to come.

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