Musical Theatre West opens Rent for 10 shows at the Carpenter Center

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rent-musical-longbeachMusical Theatre West’s regional premiere of the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-Winning smash Rent, featuring Jai Rodriguez, star of Bravo TV’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” opens Friday, December 11 and runs for only 10 performances through December 20 at the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center.

Emmy Award-winning Host/Singer Jai Rodriguez began his career at age 18 when he was cast in the role of Angel in the culturally prolific Broadway Musical Rent. A graduate of the Long Island Center for Performing Arts in New York, he is most recognized for his role as the ‘Culture Vulture’ in Bravo’s Queer Eye For The Straight Guy.

Rent is being offered as a bonus special engagement in MTW’s 2009-2010 Season. MTW is excited to be the first regional theatre to produce this show in the Los Angeles area. Associate Artistic Director/Producer Steven Glaudini states, “we are extremely honored to be the first professional regional theatre company to produce our own production of this Pulitzer Prize-winning phenomenon.”

The cast of Rent includes: Alex Alvarez, Callie Carson, Valerie Rose Curiel, P.J. Griffith, Beau Hirshfield, Andrew Johnson, Nick Lorenzini, Amber Mercomes, Michael Sky Moon, Jeffrey Scott Parsons, Mel Robert, Jai Rodriguez, Anna Schnaitter, Sabrina Sloan and Nicole Tillman.

Rent is directed by Ovation and LADCC Award Winner, Nick DeGruccio, choreographed by Alisan Porter and musical direction will be under the hand of Ovation Award Nominee, Michael Paternostro.

Rent is one of the most popular musicals in theater history. With a twelve-year run on Broadway, the show is an update of the Puccini’s La Boheme, but takes place in late 20th century New York. The gritty subject material and powerful songs of Jonathon Larson combines to make the show a new icon of modern musical theater. Larson set out to transform the tragic opera into a modern day New York setting, complete with rock music. Adding to the legend of the show is the tragic death of Larson at age 35 the day before the show’s New York opening.

The story of Rent follows the lives of a group of young artists in New York City’s East Village. In addition to being too poor to pay rent on their apartments, several of the members of the group are HIV positive. The play revolves around three couples, Collins and the cross-dressing Angel, the often-fighting Mimi and Roger, and the always-fighting Joanne and Maureen. The final member of the group is Mark, a filmmaker who spends more time taping the lives of his friends than he spends living his own life. All of the members of the group refuse to live a traditional lifestyle, embracing bohemian concepts and surviving as well as they can.

In 1996, the Broadway community would award Rent four Tony Awards, for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Wilson Jermaine Heredia, who played Angel. Rent also received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, only the seventh musical to do so.

Rent performance dates are Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at 8 p.m. with matinees at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays.Tickets range from $30-$80 and are available by calling the Box Office at (562) 856-1999 x4, in person at 4350 E. 7th Street, or online at

The Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center is located at 6200 Atherton Street, Long Beach, on the campus of California State University, Long Beach. The theater is just west of Palo Verde Avenue. For more information log on to


2 Responses to “Musical Theatre West opens Rent for 10 shows at the Carpenter Center”
  1. guest100 says:

    this play rocks!! pj griffith rocks in it!!

  2. me says:

    I must most definitely agree with the comment before. Energy, talent, singing/acting ability of PJ Griffith is Broadway quality. Why hasn’t he been on B’way RENT??? Better that others!!! PJ Griffith double rocks!!!! A joy!