ITHACA, NY – The groundbreaking , Tony Award-winning Broadway classic “Rent” comes to vivid life in the Running to Places (R2P) production of the School Edition, July 6-17 at the Kitchen Theatre Company, 417 W. State St, Ithaca.

“The motto of the Kitchen Theatre Company is ‘bold, intimate, engaging,’ says R2P artistic director Joey Steinhagen. “It’s the perfect venue for ‘Rent,’ which is certainly all of those things.” The production is part of the Kitchen Theatre Company’s Kitchen Sink Series, which is supported in part by CFCU.

While this show has been adapted for performance by non-adult actors (mostly by the removal of the song “Contact,”) it contains mature situations, strong language, drug and alcohol use, and themes of sex and sexuality, and may not be suitable for the youngest audience members.

The story is a tapestry of the struggles and dreams of a group of friends in New York’s East Village. It’s Christmas Eve and roommates Mark (Max Avramis), an emotionally isolated filmmaker, and aspiring musician Roger (Michael Sloan) are served an ultimatum by their former friend turned landlord, Benny (Elijah Speight): pay last year’s rent or get out. Defiant, they’re joined by their friends, including drag queen Angel (Jack Honig) and anarchist professor Collins (Howard Kraskow), who despite their positive HIV statuses, choose to love and live while they can.

Also in the landlord fight are crusading lawyer Joanne (Niaa Dowell) and performance artist Maureen (Ilana Wallenstein) with their fiery romance, and drug-addicted exotic dancer Mimi (Elisheva Glaser) who’s trying for a relationship with Roger, despite fears of intimacy in the time of AIDS. Their stories sweep through a year of creation, death, laughter and hope that fuse into a tribute to the power of love.

“‘Rent’ is very much set in its time period, shedding a light on the AIDS epidemic and the experiences of people in the 90’s,” says Steinhagen, “and yet, the feelings in the show are timeless and universal.”

R2P’s “Rent (School Edition)” is exclusively sponsored by CSP Management with scholarship support from Squeaky Clean Car Wash and an anonymous fund at the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, with additional grant support from the Park Foundation and the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County and season-long support from CSP Management.

“Rent (School Edition)” runs July 6-17 at the Kitchen Theatre Company, 417 W. State St, Ithaca. Seating is limited, so it’s best to get your tickets early. Performances are at 7 pm, except for the Sunday matinees, which are at 2 pm. Tickets are $15 the day of the show, $13 if purchased in advance, available on-line at www.runningtoplaces.org

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.