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LA GRANDE, Ore. – Take a trip back to the 1990s and witness a tale of identity, sickness, poverty, artistic expression, and love. The Eastern Oregon University theater program is closing out the year in a love filled bang with “Rent.”
Tickets are now on sale for “Rent,” playing 7 p.m., Thursday, May 19 through Saturday, May 21 and 2 p.m., Sunday May 22. in the McKenzie Theater in Loso Hall on the EOU’s campus. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and veterans. Admission is free for all EOU students. Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office in Loso Hall 101B.
“They have the challenge of not being able to afford rent. There’s homelessness, there’s HIV, disease, relationships challenges, there’s the whole LGBTQ part of real life and all the challenges people face…that’s why I think the play, even though it was written in the 90s, is valid because we’re still dealing with homeless, with rent challenges, with sexual orientation and relationships,” said Associate Professor of Theatre Mike Heather.
Auditions opened the first week of Spring term and rehearsals the following week. The theatre program had initially planned to perform “Rent” in 2019 and are finally getting the opportunity. This will also be the first time EOU has performed “Seasons of Love” in its original context.
“I knew about “Rent” before all of these students were born. I fell in love with the big songs like “Seasons of Love” but also all the songs, the music, the characters, what “Rent” was standing for, what it meant, so I’ve always wanted to do it,” Heather said.
As part of rehearsals, students are focusing a mix of choreography, singing, and acting, plenty of which is being performed simultaneously throughout the play.
“”Rent” is an interesting show musically and content wise. It’s something that hadn’t been performed before it was performed, and the music is insanely difficult in some areas. Songs like “Christmas Bells” have about six different melodies going at the same time. The writer Jonathan Larson did an incredible job mixing lines with the music,” said cast member Nicholas Vece who is playing Mark Cohen.
Students are also focusing on honing the intricacies of their diverse characters and their respective identities within the play.
“Mark as a character kind of bridges this gap between the audience and the characters in the show, and it’s really fun to be able to actually look at the audience and get to interact with them more than you normally would from behind the fourth wall,” Cohen said.
During their first full rehearsal on May 2, the cast performed the first act and focused on vocal and choreographic synchronization and putting the various parts together.
“At the beginning stages of putting together a show it’s so rough that you’re like ‘oh my God there’s no way this is ever going to work,’ and it’s really fun to see it increment by increment get to where it’s supposed to be,” said cast member Sierra Howard who is playing Mimi Marquez
Over 50 students are involved total, including 16 cast members and various supporting groups such three production staff, a student music director, 14 stagecraft class members, 12 costume construction students along with backup vocalists from the EOU music ensemble.
“The music is really good. The dance numbers are going to be good, and I think that we have a lot of really talented cast both in the ensemble and principles and it’s going to blow this whole production out of the water,” said cast member Jacob Fox who is playing Tom Collins.
For schedule information and online ticket purchases, visit
Written by PR Intern Garrett Christensen
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