Five Star Review from Theatre Weekly

Bohemia is alive! Celebrating its 20th Anniversary, Jonathan Larsons’ ground-breaking Rent is at The St James Theatre as part of its UK tour.  Bruce Guthrie directs the revival of the landmark musical that has had so much influence on modern culture.

The production is a triumph, Larsons’ iconic, rock musical score sounds exhilarating under the musical direction of Phil Cornwell . Add to this, the stunning choreography from Lee Proud, and it’s a winning combination for Rent.

Then there’s the superb cast, who take us on the twisting journey of a group of friends, struggling to make ends meet, and generally survive in a pre-millennium New York. Hoping to find love, and make it work, under the dark clouds of HIV and AIDS.

Billy Cullum, as ‘Mark’ gives a stellar performance. A talented all-rounder, his routine in “Tango: Maureen” is honed to a tee. Overall he is commanding and skilfully delivers the pivotal role.

As ‘Angel’, Layton Williams is breath-taking. His energy seems boundless and he has the audience eating out of his hands. By his final scene that same audience is in pieces.

Philippa Stefani, as ‘Mimi’ seems to soar above the stage in a stratospheric performance. Singing “Goodbye, Love” it appears every ounce of emotion she possesses is poured in to the song.

Lucie Jones and Shanay Holmes have a wonderful chemistry as ‘Maureen’ and ‘Joanne’ which is both touching and humorous.  Ross Hunter, as Roger, brings and intense edge to the character. While Ryan O’Gorman also excels in the role of ‘Tom’.

The staging brings an authentic feeling piece of gritty New York to London, and the lighting helps create a wonderful frenetic energy, the combination is a visually stunning spectacle.

How do you measure the success of this production? The entire London run is sold out, and those lucky enough to have tickets, are sure to agree, that Rent is a simply magical way to spend one hundred-sixty five minutes.

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