Paramount Art Center to showcase local talent in upcoming production of “RENT”


Courtesy Photo Local talent rehearses for production of “RENT.” The show will open curtain on Thursday, September 17 and Friday, September 18 at 7 p.m.


Courtesy Photo Local talent rehearses for production of "RENT." The show will open curtain on Thursday, September 17 and Friday, September 18 at 7 p.m.


Courtesy Photo Local talent rehearses for production of "RENT." The show will open curtain on Thursday, September 17 and Friday, September 18 at 7 p.m.


Joseph Pratt

[email protected]

How do you measure your life?

“RENT,” the critically acclaimed musical penned by the late Jonathan Larson, has been reminding audiences everywhere to measure their lives in love, 525,600 minutes at a time.

Ashland’s Paramount Players will be performing this timeless show, which is loosely based on Puccini’s “La Boheme,” with many locals involved this weekend only.

The story is the crowning achievement of playwright Jonathan Larson’s career, who penned his bleeding heart and views of his bohemian New York City world into the show. The show touches base on drug addiction, gay and transgender issues, poverty, and dealing with loss.

The production took nearly a decade for Larsen to put together, working at a diner to get by while he perfected it. He even wrote hundreds of songs, trying to paint the pristine picture of his world, eventually settling on 42 selections for the final product.

The show rose to critical acclaim in 1996 and quickly gained international attention, also getting a movie of the same title in 2005. “RENT” has won numerous awards, including four Tony Awards, six Drama Desk Awards, and even a Pulitzer Prize. It has been nominated for many more.

The story follows a group of friends who are all battling their own demons. The complex characters include artists, musicians, directors, scholars and more, as they try to live the lives they want to lead in an impoverished New York City. The villains of the show include disease, poverty, and addiction.

The physical and emotional complications of disease pervade the lives of Roger, Mimi, Tom, and Angel. Maureen deals with her chronic infidelity through performing art; her partner, Joanne, wonders if their relationship is worth the trouble. Benny has sold out his bohemian ideals in exchange for a hefty income and is on the outs with his former friends. Mark, an aspiring filmmaker, feels like an outsider to life in general. How these young bohemians negotiate their dreams, loves, and conflicts, provides the narrative thread to this instant classic.

Locals Melanie Manchester and Hannah Noel star in the show, portraying members of the main cast. Local Sarah Brehm is also in the show, with a supporting role.

Manchester describes this show as a dream come true, with her character, Joanne, being her dream role.

“It’s hard to describe how I feel about this show,” Manchester said. “I fell in love with it when the movie came out many years ago. I’ve been hooked ever since. I even have it tattooed on my left arm.”

Manchester said that she has never been more excited for a show, because it is one that really hits home for her.

“Yes, there’s a lot of heavy content in it, but when it comes down to it, the one thing I take away from this show is that love conquers all. No matter what the situation, as long as there’s love, there’s hope…and you can’t live without hope,” Manchester said. “I’ve watched so many of my friends and classmates struggle and fight with addiction. I’ve gone to meetings and held their hands. I’ve picked them up off bathroom floors. I’ve rushed them to hospitals and held them through withdrawals….watched as they lowered their caskets into the ground,” Manchester said. “This show hits home with me and I think that’s why I love it so much.”

Director Melanie Cornelison says she works with a lot of Scioto County talent and is always excited to welcome them on her stage at Paramount.

“We love having people from all areas come and perform,” Cornelison said. “Portsmouth has consistently provided some of the most talented individuals we have had and it is always great to see them return to work with us again.”

Cornelison said that she believes guests will not be let down, that the local production is respective to the crowning Larson achievement.

“Rehearsals have gone very well. Our leads are very strong and this is a dream show to many of the cast members, so they came in already familiar with the characters, the music, and the story,” Cornelison said. “These people know the story very well and we feel like we’ve put together a wonderful production.”

“RENT” is limited to two nights only. The show will open curtain on Thursday, September 17 and Friday, September 18 at 7 p.m. The show is rated R.

Tickets are $25. To purchase tickets, call the Paramount Box Office at 606-324-0007 or visit www.ParamountArtsCenter.com. The Paramount Arts Center is at 1300 Winchester Avenue, Ashland, Kentucky.

Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.

Courtesy Photo Local talent rehearses for production of “RENT.” The show will open curtain on Thursday, September 17 and Friday, September 18 at 7 p.m.
http://portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/web1_r.jpgCourtesy Photo Local talent rehearses for production of “RENT.” The show will open curtain on Thursday, September 17 and Friday, September 18 at 7 p.m.

Courtesy Photo
Local talent rehearses for production of "RENT." The show will open curtain on Thursday, September 17 and Friday, September 18 at 7 p.m.
http://portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/web1_R2.jpgCourtesy Photo
Local talent rehearses for production of "RENT." The show will open curtain on Thursday, September 17 and Friday, September 18 at 7 p.m.

Courtesy Photo
Local talent rehearses for production of "RENT." The show will open curtain on Thursday, September 17 and Friday, September 18 at 7 p.m.
http://portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/web1_R3.jpgCourtesy Photo
Local talent rehearses for production of "RENT." The show will open curtain on Thursday, September 17 and Friday, September 18 at 7 p.m.
comments powered by Disqus