SJU Theater Company to Present ‘Rent’

Friday, April 5, 2013

by Amanda Sapio '13

PHILADELPHIA (April 5, 2013) – The Saint Joseph’s University Theater Company will perform Jonathan Larson’s iconic, Tony Award-winning rock musical Rent this spring. The show opens Thursday, April 11 at 8 p.m. in the Bluett Theatre and runs through Sunday, April 21.

Rent, which is based on Giacomo Puccini's opera La bohème, focuses on a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling in New York during the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In 1996, the Broadway show received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score. It ran at the Nederlander Theatre through September 2008, making it the ninth longest-running show in Broadway history. It was adapted into a film in 2005, reuniting much of the original cast.

“We hope that our performance will raise awareness on and around campus about HIV/AIDS,” says Renee Dobson, M.F.A., the show’s director and an associate professor of theatre in the Department of Music, Theatre and Film. “Although HIV/AIDS is not as prevalent as it was when Rent was written, this is still a serious issue that impacts countless numbers of people.”

The production, which features more than 35 participating students, was choreographed by Rebecca Valvik, a senior marketing major who will also perform in the production. SJU musicals are rarely choreographed by students, but Dobson explained that they made an exception this year because of Valvik’s remarkable talent.

Dobson enlisted professionals to work with and teach the students. Douglass Lutz, the musical director for The Walnut Street Theatre, has been brought in as the guest musical director and Sara Ward, professional scenic designer, has flown in from Atlanta, Ga. to manage stage construction.

Performances run April 11, 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 8 p.m., with a matinee on April 21 at 2 p.m., in the Bluett Theatre, Post Hall, on Overbrook Ave. near 56th Street. Tickets are $10 for students from any school, faculty, staff (showing proper identification), and senior citizens, and $18 for general admission. To reserve tickets, call 610-660-1181. For more information, or to order tickets online, visit the SJU Theatre Company’s website.

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As Philadelphia's Jesuit, Catholic University, founded by the Society of Jesus in 1851, Saint Joseph's University provides a rigorous, student-centered education rooted in the liberal arts. SJU ranks as a top university in the Northeast, with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the College of Arts and Sciences and AACSB accreditation of the  Erivan K. Haub School of Business. The University is also deeply committed to the Jesuit tradition of scholarship and service, earning a place on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and the community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. With courses offered on campus and online, SJU prepares its more than 8,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students to lead lives of personal excellence, professional success and engaged citizenship.


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