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Award-Winning Musical, ‘Rent,’ to be Presented Dec. 9 by Appalachian Musical Theatre Ensemble

Dec. 4, 2012. The highly acclaimed musical “Rent” will make its regional premiere at Appalachian State University Dec. 9 with two performances, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., in Rosen Concert Hall by the newly formed Appalachian Musical Theatre Ensemble. This is the first time “Rent” has been produced in the High Country. Appalachian’s production involves more than four dozen students in the cast, crew and live orchestra, representing 18 different academic majors from across the university.

Tickets are $8 and are being sold in advance at the Valborg Theatre Lobby from 2-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tickets will also be sold at the door beginning one hour prior to each performance.

With book, music and lyrics by the late Jonathan Larson, “Rent” is a story of life, love and dealing with HIV/AIDS during the turn of the millennium. It won Tony, Drama Desk and Pulitzer Prize awards.

Based loosely on Puccini’s “La Boheme,” “Rent” follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. The physical and emotional complications of the disease pervade the lives of four of the main characters. How these young bohemians negotiate their dreams, loves and conflicts provides the narrative thread to this groundbreaking musical, which was originally produced by New York Theatre Workshop in 1994.

The Appalachian Musical Theatre Ensemble is under the co-direction of senior theatre major Jonathan Green and Keith Martin, the John M. Blackburn Distinguished Professor of Theatre. Musical direction is by Dr. Joby Bell with vocal direction by Dr. Linda Larson, both faculty members in the Hayes School of Music. The timing of the production honors World AIDS Day, celebrated nationally on Dec. 1 to commemorate the lives of all of those who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS.

The ensemble is the performance arm of the new Appalachian Musical Theatre Club for students of all majors who are interested in musical theatre. The club meets every two weeks for programs and activities related to music, dance and theatre, culminating in an end-of-semester concert performance.

“The club provides an outlet for students who love musical theatre but for various reasons chose not to major in these areas,” said Martin. “Students must audition for parts in the ensemble, while others help with design and other work behind the scenes. For those who do perform, it’s a chance for theatre majors to get vocal instruction and for music majors to get dance or acting training. It’s an incredible crossover unlike anything I’ve seen on this campus.”

Rosen Concert Hall is located in the Broyhill Music Center at the Hayes School of Music, 813 Rivers St. Free parking is available on campus in faculty lots, the College Street parking deck near the Belk Library and Information Commons, the Stadium Lot and the Raley Parking Lot.