By Kylie Stamper
Staff reporter

Rent, a controversial musical, will make its way to the Richardson stage on April 10, 11, and 12. Rent is a rock musical written by Jonathan Larson that tells the story of a group of young adults struggling as artists and musicians in the lower east side neighborhood of Alphabet City in New York.

Nikia Smith, musical theater junior, said, “Rent is just this show that I think reaches out to people and can give hope to others, to artists, to people that maybe are different. Rent is about hope and people sticking together no matter what situation they’ve gotten themselves into. They can always follow their dreams and there are always people that are going to care about you. It’s all about love.”

Joey Tran, music senior, said, “Rent is a high energy musical and what’s great about high energy musicals is that every performance is a make-it-or-break-it performance. I think all of us will work hard. We have worked hard, we have rehearsed hard and we are going to give a great show.”

Tran will play Angel, one of the main characters. In simplest terms, Angel is percussion-playing drag queen with AIDS. Rent deals with some of the major issues that people faced in the late 80s and 90s, especially in the lower east side of New York. AIDs, drugs, and the harsh life of an artist are all present in the show.

Rent is an uncommon play to be performed in a college setting. It started on Broadway, traveled the globe, and was made into a film. The theater department fought to be able to perform the show this year. “I believe Rent is another stepping stone for the theater department because we are taking on a musical that not many colleges do because of the topics and its history. It’s a part of American culture that nobody talks about, it’s the perfect timing for Rent to be premiered,” said Tran.

Rent is known for its controversial topics but is also known for its music and the message it sends out. It has become a staple of modern theater. One thing that will pull the show together is the cast. Smith said, “I believe that this cast is going to be very tight-knit. We fought for this show to be here. It’s going to be a very big show and everyone brought their A-game while they were auditioning. So this is probably going to be one of the best casts I have ever worked with because of how much people want to do this show. It’s very important to a lot of us.”

Joy Betzen, theater freshman, is the stage manager for this production. She assists Allyson Moon, director, and Matt Berthot with the planning stages and is in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly during the actual shows in April. She said, “The best part of the show is actually putting it on the stage and seeing what you’ve worked so hard to accomplish. Watching it become something bigger and entertaining people and sending the message of the show. That’s what I’m most excited for.”

Kylie Stamper is a freshman majoring in communication. You may email her at