Thursday, 24 September 2020

Casting announced for revival of RENT at the Hope Mill Theatre


The cast and full creative team has been announced for Hope Mill Theatre’s hotly-anticipated revival of the classic rock musical RENT, directed by Luke Sheppard.

RENT will play at Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester from Friday 30th October to Sunday 6th December 2020.

The 12 company members, who were originally cast back in February are finally getting the opportunity to come together for this special revival of the much-loved musical. The cast will receive a Covid-19 test prior to being placed in one household (bubble) for the length of the run in Manchester.

Jocasta Almgill (& Juliet, Dreamgirls – West End) will play Joanne; Blake Patrick Anderson (Be More Chill – The Other Palace, Closer to Heaven – Off West End/Above the Stag) will play Mark; Tom Francis (Arts Ed 2020 graduate) will mark his professional debut as Roger; Ahmed Hamad (The Boy in the Dress – RSC, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – West End) will play Benny; Dom Hartley-Harris (George Washington in Hamilton – West End, Bat Out of Hell – Manchester & West End) will play Collins; Millie O’Connell (Olivier nominated as Anne Boleyn in SIX The Musical – West End & UK Tour, 42nd Street – West End) will play Maureen; Maiya Quansah-Breed (Olivier nominated as Catherine Parr in SIX The Musical – West End & UK Tour) will play Mimi; Alex Thomas-Smith (Dear Evan Hansen – West End, Bat Out of Hell – West End) will play Angel. 

Completing the cast in Featured Ensemble roles are 2020 Royal Academy of Music Masters graduate Kayla Carter; Allie Daniel (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Film), Isaac Hesketh (Book of Mormon – UK Tour) and Bethany Terry (West Side Story – Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester, Bat Out of Hell – West End).

The full creative team has also been announced today. RENT is directed by Luke Sheppard, Choreographer Tom Jackson Greaves, Musical Supervisor Katy Richardson, Musical Director Chris Poon, Set & Costume Designer David Woodhead, LX Designer Howard Hudson, Sound Designer Paul Gatehouse, Projection Designer George Reeve, Assistant Director Priya Appleby, Costume Supervisor Ester Mangas, Production Photographer Dujonna Gift-Simms, Makeup and Wigs Designer Jackie Saundercock, and Casting by Pearson Casting.

Artwork by Feast Creative and video content by The Umbrella Rooms.

Director Luke Sheppard said: “This production of RENT is about placing this groundbreaking show in the hands of a new generation of exceptional musical theatre performers, and as we have shifted the lens on the production over the last months, the promise of this cast telling this story in these extraordinary times has felt increasingly vital. Most of them have been waiting in the wings since we cast the production at the start of the year and I'm enormously grateful for their patience and commitment. The Hope Mill Theatre continues to work tirelessly to make this production happen in a safe and secure way and it's a privilege to be working with this visionary venue to bring this special production to the stage."

With some performances including all Previews sold out and many close to selling out the venue is urging audiences to not delay and grab a ticket whilst they can.

Hope Mill Theatre will be operating with strict COVID guidelines in place in line with the Government guidance for the performing arts.

This will include operating at 50% capacity per show with audience rows spaced 2 metres apart and a transparent safety screen separating bookings.

The show will rehearse with social distancing in mind and in a COVID-secure environment. The venue will be clearly signposted with essential information and will put in place hand sanitising stations, extra toilets for patrons, staggered arrival times and temperature checks on arrival.

The theatre space will be fully sanitised before each performance and audiences will be asked to wear face coverings during the show or visors for those who are exempt.

In line with current guidelines the venue will not allow groups of more than 6 people per booking from different households and will be collecting audience details to comply with the NHS Test & Trace scheme.

RENT was originally produced in New York by New York Theatre Workshop and on Broadway by Jeffrey Seller, Kevin McCollum, Allan S. Gordon and New York Theatre Workshop. Musical Arrangements by Steve Skinner, Music Supervision and Additional Arrangements by Tim Weil, Original Concept/Additional Lyrics Billy Aronson and Dramaturg Lynn Thomson.

Presented by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) Limited.

RENT is a rock musical with music, lyrics, and book by Jonathan Larson and is loosely based on Puccini's opera La Bohème. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists living, loving and working in Manhattan's East Village, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

The show premiered off-Broadway in 1996 before moving to Broadway later the same year. The show has been staged all over the world, including in the West End in 1998 and in 2005 was released as a motion picture. It features hit songs such as Rent, Without You, La Vie La Bohème and the iconic Seasons of Love.
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