RENT - Good bye, Adam, Matt and Ashleigh! Hello, Josh, Justin and Emma!
As much as I didn't care for the revival of RENT, I have to admit the announcement of the replacements for the roles of Mark, Roger and Maureen excites me. I actually saw Justin Johnston as Angel in the original production of the show, and he was pretty darned good. I am really looking forward to seeing what he does with the role of Roger when he replaces Matt Shingledecker. One former Spring Awakening alum is leaving, and another is joining. Emma Hunton was good in Awakening, and she was truly amazing in the next to normal National Tour. I can't wait to see what she does with the more "grown up" role of Maureen. She takes over for the uneven (in my opinion) Annaleigh Ashford. (Hunton begins performances on January 13.) I can only imagine his chemistry with Mimi!
Finally, I love Adam Chanler-Berat, even as Mark, but I'm glad that he's leaving the show, because chances are good that he's leaving to be part of the Broadway cast of Peter and the Starcatcher, bringing his critically acclaimed off-Broadway performance to a larger audience. (I'm seriously keeping my fingers crossed.) But Josh Grisetti is reason to contemplate a return visit to RENT. I missed him in Brighton Beach Memoirs, and every subsequent New York appearance of his - all critically-acclaimed. This might just be my chance to see what all the fuss is about. Apparently, Enter Laughing won't be entering the Broadway scene as soon as previously thought. (Both Johnston and Grisetti begin performances on January 20.)
LYSISTRATA JONES - Goodbye, Lyssie J., Mick, Robin and gang!
Somewhere there is the audience for a Broadway show that is smart, funny, really meant to only entertain and is fresh and new. You know, the show everyone bitches about that is missing from Broadway. Yet another show that Broadway fans scream for but no one will go to - I'm thinking Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Scottsboro Boys - now Lysistrata Jones joins the ranks of failed critical darlings, Thank God the writers of such bold, boundary-pushing works don't give up. Do we really need more Mamma Mia and the like? Once people realize and can respect that these types of shows will always be polarizing, and respect the polarizing opinions as BOTH being viable, the sooner these shows will stand a chance. I'm just saying... if you don't like a show, fine. But don't hate on the people who like it!
Maybe the only good thing to come of this sad departure is that another theatre is now open. Perhaps for Peter and the Starcatcher?
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