Hi all. I just got back from London (very jet lagged; hope this is comprehensible). I saw the show on 5/5 and 5/6 (tues and weds) and thought I'd post my thoughts. I see there are some other reviews up already, but I had such a great time that I felt the need to share, so skip this if you've heard enough.
First of all, the show is amazing (you're surprised?). I thought the energy level, especially on Tuesday, was really high, and just seeing the OBC crew up there is enough to set your heart a-racing.
On Tuesday, Anthony was not on. It was the first perf for Joe McFadden, the understudy who allegedly will take over when Ant leaves [I think this is confirmed]. Needless to say I was disappointed not to be seeing Anthony, but I have to say that Joe was very good. He is truly adorable, on the short side with dark hair. He is Scottish, but his American accent was respectable. He has a nice presence, cute and sweet. A very Mark-y Mark, if you'll excuse the pun. His singing was solid, and he looked like he was having a lot of fun up there. His LVB was crisp and put together. At the end he appeared truly stunned by the crowd's response, and was adorable giving autographs at the stage door. He said he was really nervous and didn't have fun at all on stage, but you didn't know that from the audience. I think when he has the chance to settle into the part he'll get really good.
There was a fair amount of glitches with mikes, lights, etc., but nothing too serious. Weds nite one of the chairs tipped over during TMOLM and stayed that way for a while until Adam extended Without You for several bars to walk over and pick it up. Oh the film actually shows Allison (from behind) chewing out Benny about Mimi, which I thought was odd but interesting.
Jesse and Wilson are spectacular together. Their chemistry, as usual, is amazing, and Jesse looks like he's taken happy pills or something, he's having so much fun up there. On Weds, I think everyone was tired and during Marlboros, bananas, etc, every single item hit the ground and they were cracking up. Capn Crunch dance alive and well, New Yorkers will be happy to know. Oh and at the beginning of Contact someone (I suspect Jesse) shouted "Okey dokey smokey!" which was bizarre but funny.
Adam looks stunning. His hair is decidedly NOT blue, but very bleached blonde, and fairly long and spiked out. Very different from the Time Out cover. He is rocking up there. I think his performance is a little different from what I remember. A softer, more playful Roger, being cutesy at times with Mimi, making jokes, actually smiling. I liked it. Love the tattoo also.
Ant of course was fabulous when I finally saw him on Weds. What can I say, everyone loves Anthony. He chatted at the stage door afterwards and was so gracious, as usual. He told me that his movie, David Searching, is slated for June and July release in NY and LA, and maybe very limited release in other cities afterwards, so that's something to look forward to. Pinching his nipples these days on mucho masturbation.
Krysten Cummings: OH. MY. GOD. She totally rocks. I thought she was spectacular. Her voice sounds a lot like Daphne, actually, with that husky overtone, but is very rich and full underneath. Her bar work on Out Tonight is truly not to be believed. She and Adam have great chemistry. She's wonderful, and I thought no one could beat Simone, but I've seen the light. She doesn't do glitter in her hair, but on Weds she had glitter on her chest and face that looked really good. She does this funny thing on lawn chair handcuff dance where she grabs her ankles and hops around all twisted up.
Who else. Despite all the arguing over the British accents, I think Benny (Bonny Lockhart) is good. He's trying to do an American accent; he just slips up a lot. He has long dreds in a pony tail. Joanne (Jacqui Dubois) is excellent. She has a terrific, rich voice and is very funny. Her "We're Okay" was great. Angela Bradley who does Mark's Mom, etc, has this awesome shock of magenta manic panic type hair, and she's really cute and funny. She'll do a great Maureen. I thought Josh Cohen (Gordon & the Man) was only so-so. His voice is nice, but he's kind of a boring presence. I missed Dan Robbins. Robert Solomon (the Rasta man/waiter/Steve) is way cool. He's from New York and was very friendly at the stage door.
Jessica Tezier, who is doing Maureen, I thought was problematic. Her Maureen was very harsh and nasty and I didn't think particularly sympathetic or likeable. I believed that she and Joanne were fighting and on each other's nerves, but really couldn't picture them in love. Also her accent is weird and stilted, and her singing only so-so. I wasn't thrilled. But her OTM was funny, and the audience really responded to it. Maybe she'll improve. Oh, and there is no Mark-between-her-legs shadow, as people have mentioned, but there is a shadow effect of another kind. She wears the cowbell and drumstick on chains around her waist, and they hang between her legs, so on the shadow the hanging drumstick looks very phallic and swings back and forth, and that was pretty funny.
Wilson hung around outside the stage door for a long time on both nights, and clearly was having fun chatting with the rushers. He was totally sweet and friendly. Jesse and Adam snuck out another door both nights I was there, which was a bummer. BUT I went back on Saturday afternoon to take some pictures of the theater (the outside is plastered with images and RENT in 10 foot high letters), and there they were in the box office arranging for tickets for their friends. I was totally star struck and accosted them for autographs, which they were very gracious about. Jesse says he's 'probably' going to be back on Ally McBeal next year, so...
Angel has reported on her page the script changes, including the usual Circle Line to Statue of Liberty, and Hicksville to Jersey, and now this new Ted Koppel to CNN change. Otherwise I didn't notice any other differences. There are some costume changes, notably Maureen's coat, which is now this long ugly patched thing. One of the costume people told me they can't find the old one anywhere. She also felt that the homeless people looked too nice to be homeless, but I didn't notice that particularly.
I don't know what else to report on. London is plastered with RENT posters, particularly the tube and anywhere there's a Doc Martens display, since there's a tie-in. The Doc Martens store in Coven Garden has huge RENTwindow displays.
Oh, some front of house people told me that this person Adrian who will be replacing Adam is apparently going to perform with the Benny Co in Connecticut, which would be now, right? I don't know anything else about this. Anyone in the know, Benny Co wise? [This has also been confirmed.]
Sorry if this is long and disjointed and rambling. Overall I had a great time. The show is amazing, and it was a huge thrill to see so many OBCers up there. Really a special thing. Plus the added bonus of Krysten, and the pleasant surprise of Joe the Mark understudy. It will be interesting to see what the London critics think...
I hope Jonathan is up there grinning from ear to ear over all this.
Measure in love, everyone...
Back to my RENT-in-London Page