The original rock musical RENT will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and will serve as the final show of the 2017-2018 M&T Bank Broadway Season presented by RBTL and Albert Nocciolino. Composed by Jonathan Larson, RENT has gone forth to challenge social norms and stereotypes while portraying the lives of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams without selling out. Winning numerous awards including three Tonys, it was on Broadway for 12 years from 1996 to 2008. Taking place in New York City, RENT follows the course of a year in the lives of the characters. Amidst fragile friendships, relationships and an AIDS/HIV epidemic, these friends learn to measure life “in love.”
Playing the lead male Roger Davis is Logan Farine, who was originally a swing and understudy. (A swing is someone who learns most roles and waits backstage in case an emergency happens and they need to go out for a castmate.) Farine describes Roger as “a recovering drug addict who used to play rock shows all over and finds out that his girlfriend killed herself because the two of them have AIDS.” Throughout the show, Roger strives to continue to live out his dream through not selling out and finding comfort in his friendships. He also enters a tumultuous relationship with Mimi, an eccentric stripper who is also HIV-positive.
On February 27, Farine officially stepped out from behind the curtain to play Roger full-time. “Theatre is super cool and this play and character is one I had always dreamed of playing,” Farine says. “I started musicals in seventh grade but never took it seriously until I was a sophomore.” Farine’s previous Broadway credits include Footloose (Ren), among numerous other noteworthy plays and musicals. The subject matter of RENT can get rather heavy and deep but leaves a lasting effect on Farine. “The message is so positive that even though the themes can be dark, the overall takeaway is centered around love,” he says. This is the reason that Farine believes RENT still resonates with people 20 years later. While times and situations may change, it holds true to struggles individuals go through today. “People still deal with loss and drug addiction and it matches with the theme of life and regret,” he says. “It’s about finding the joy of life and that’s something everyone needs to do.” As for how the musical relates to college students, Farine added that the characters of RENT are still trying to figure out who they are and what they are as a person. It’s something that many college students still struggle with because college is associated with self-discovery and growing up. He says, “College is one of the most stressful times and RENT really sympathizes with people going through tough times but getting through it thanks to friends.”
Farine’s favorite part of touring is exploring the country and playing in his hometown of Pittsburgh. “It touches people differently from town to town,” he says. “Some people have known RENT from the day it was written, while others have no idea what they’re getting themselves into.” Farine also enjoys working with his castmates. “The best part of this contract is that they hired really kind people who are good at working together and became a big family,” he says, adding that the first thing they do when getting to a new city is pull up Google Maps and look for popular places and trails to hike. “We’re actually in some type of antique store right now,” he laughs over the phone. “You make a family no matter where you go.”
Farine’s final statement expresses his excitement towards future performances of RENT, which will be playing at The Auditorium Theatre May 1-6. Tickets can be purchased online or through the box office at (800) 745-3000.