Rent or buy? East’s musical worth every penny


Photo by John Merrick

Story by Anthony Rodriguez, Staff Writer

The curtains drew back and the flood lights illuminated the stage as Rent the musical debuted at East Meck’s Silver auditorium on Feb. 22.

The rendition of the musical Rent by the theater program at East was full of energy and beautiful singing. Rent follows the story of a group of friends struggling to make their marks on the world while also struggling financially. The musical displays the conflicts of adult topics such as AIDS and drug use as the relationships of its characters are tested. 

The story of the group of friends is, in part, narrated by Mark Cohen, portrayed by sophomore Shawn Knock. Knock brought energy and professionality to his performances, becoming one of the fan favorites. His singing and acting were great and he seemed to have a pleasant presence on stage. 

Among others who brought strong, engaging auras on stage were the characters of Maureen Johnson and Tom Collins, portrayed by junior Katie Fuller and senior Xavier Stitt, respectively. Fuller was the lead of some of the most memorable moments in the musical and brought amazing vocals. Stitt had a heartwarming effect on the production as a whole on stage. Many of the connections on stage seemed to be the result of connections made between the cast members in preparation for the performances. Many of the cast members have agreed that Stitt had a large impact on the bonding behind the scenes which was evident on stage as well. 

“Xavier Stitt strengthened our ensemble when he came back this year and he was just very kind and helpful with everybody,” Knock said. “The cast was very loving and when people were having bad days or there was low energy we would still be able to commit and come through each day to make ourselves better.

The romantic conflict between the characters of Mimi Marquez, played by senior Akira Jackson, and Roger Davis, played by senior Thomas Lopez, is the most prominent conflict of the musical. From loving kisses to heated arguments, the emotions were played at a professional level by the actors, especially Jackson who stood out among the others. 

Something that made watching Rent a unique experience in comparison to watching the other live performances at East was the use of a live band. The small group of musicians made it so that the focus remained on the stage while still getting a live performance from the band. 

If any criticisms are to be made, it would not be for the cast but for the microphone quality during the performances, as there were a few moments of feedback noises and microphones cutting out on just a few occasions despite the instructions before the show for all audience members to ensure that their personal devices were in a mode that would not interfere with the performance. 

Overall, the rendition of Rent by East Meck students was the most memorable live performance at the school in recent years as the cast displayed strong acting, connections, and professionality in discussing adult topics.