Quad City Music Guild's “Rent" at the Prospect Park Auditorium -- March 24 through April 2

Friday, March 24, through Sunday, April 2

Prospect Park Auditorium, 1584 34th Avenue, Moline IL

The beginning of spring will also be a season of love at Moline's Prospect Park Auditorium when Quad City Music Guild opens its 2023 lineup with the modern classic Rent, creator Jonathan Larson's unforgettable rock opera that earned four Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, and the hearts of countless millions of stage fans the world over.

Based on Puccini’s beloved opera La Bohème, Rent follows the ups and downs of a year in the life of a group of impoverished, artistic friends living in Manhattan’s East Village. Mark, an aspiring filmmaker, struggles to find his place in the world. His roommate Roger, an HIV-positive musician, wonders how he will leave his mark before he dies. Mimi and Angel look for true love as they face the harsh realities of life as HIV-positive young people, while the businesslike Joanne seeks fidelity from her wild-child performance-artist girlfriend Maureen. The group’s dreams, losses, and love stories weave through Rent's narration to paint a raw and emotional portrait of the gritty bohemian world of New York City in the late 1980s under the shadow of HIV/AIDS, resulting in a musical the New York Times described as an "exhilarating, landmark rock opera" with a "glittering, inventive score."

Kira Rangel, Myka Walljasper, Keenan Wilson, Tim Dominicus, and Chase Austin in Rent

With its music, lyrics, and book by Larson, Rent debuted in a 1993 production at New York Theatre Workshop, the same off-Broadway venue that became the musical's initial home following its official 1996 opening. Tragically, Larson, died suddenly of an aortic dissection the night before the off-Broadway premiere, meaning its creator never saw either his show's official debut or its subsequent move to Broadway's larger Nederlander Theatre, where it began playing in April of 1996. As a Broadway production, Rent garnered critical acclaim and netted 10 Tony nominations, eventually winning for Best Musical, Book, Original Score, and Featured Actor Wilson Jermaine Heredia. Larson's achievement was also one of the few musicals in history to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and when the the original Broadway production closed in 2008 after 12 years, it had amassed 5,123 performances, making it, at present, the 11th-longest Broadway presentation of all time. Rent's initial run also grossed more than $280 million, and its success led to several national tours, numerous foreign productions, and a 2005 film adaptation featuring nearly all of the original cast members.

Directing Rent for Quad City Music Guild is Jeff Ashcraft, a former River Cities' Reader theatre reviewer who directed productions of On Golden Pond and Tuesdays with Morrie for Moline's Playcrafters Barn Theatre, and whose planned presentation of The Secret Garden for Music Guild was unfortunately canceled when its opening in March of 2020 sadly coincided with the pandemic. Featured among Ashcraft's cast are Tim Dominicus (Roger); Chase Austin (Mark); Keenen Wilson (Collins); Michael Dunn (Benny); Myka Walljasper (Joanne); Gary Mayfield (Angel); Kira Rangel (Mimi), and Abbey Donohoe (Maureen), with 14 additionally gifted performers among the ensemble: Rishem Bhogal, Drew DeKeyrel, Cody Dutton, Adrienne Evans, Katie Griswold, Julie Hummel, Stephanie Moeller, Valeree Pieper, DeMario Rankin, Em Schwartz, Robert Warner, Amber Whitaker, Jay Whitmore, and Joe Wren.

Kira Rangel in Rent

Mitch Carter serves as Rent's music director, with area TV and print journalist Jonathan Turner as assistant music director and Sara Laufer as the musical's choreographer. And with Kelsey Walljasper acting as Ashcraft's stage manager, additional members of the creative team include: assistant director Michael Van Belle; set designer Crista Ashcraft; costume designer Karen Dubberke; lighting designer Bill Peiffer; sound designer Giovanni Marcias; props designer Lisa Ferguson; and producer Erin Platt.

Rent runs at the Prospect Park Auditorium March 24 through April 2, with performances n Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Admission is $15-20, and more information and tickets are available by calling (309)762-6610 and visiting QCMusicGuild.com.

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