Tony Award-winning musical “Rent” will return to Bloomington 8 p.m. Jan. 28 and 29 when it visits the IU Auditorium, back by popular demand after a successful tour in 2016.
The musical follows a year in the life of seven young, bohemian artists living in Manhattan’s East Village at the end of the 1980s. The characters attempt to chase their dreams in the face of drug addiction and the HIV/AIDS crisis.
“'Rent' tells a story that is crucial for all to hear,” said IU Auditorium Executive Director Doug Booher in a press release. “It’s a unique production that not only gives the audience beautiful songs and wonderful sets, but a heartbreaking and compelling story that holds true for so many.”
The IU Auditorium was the first stage in Indiana to welcome the rock musical back in 1999 because other venues were reluctant to do so as a result of the show’s controversial content, according to the press release.
“Just as we were in 1999 upon its premiere, IU Auditorium is proud to present such a historic and spectacular show,” Booher said.
Rent went on a 20th anniversary tour in 2016, beginning in Bloomington. The musical is still on that tour and another date for this year was added at the IU Auditorium by popular demand.
IU junior Susie Szymanski saw the show in Bloomington in 2016 and bought tickets to see it again on Tuesday night.
“I really enjoyed it my freshman year, and I was invited by some close friends of mine,” Szymanski said. “I decided to go again because I wanted to share with them the experience of seeing Rent because these are people that I really care about and I know it’s a great show.”
Rent celebrates friendship and hope despite fear and teaches audiences to measure life in love. The show features songs such as “La Vie Bohème” and “Seasons of Love” while also being a frank examination of the tolls of HIV/AIDS on a community.
“I loved that new, fresh culture aspect of it,” Szymanski said. “Like the discussion about the LGBTQ community and the discussion about AIDS, I feel like really is educational for the audience and provides good representation for those communities.”
Szymanski said the show took her by surprise when she first saw it because she was unfamiliar with its plot. So she offered up some advice to people who have never seen the show before.
“Go to the show with an open mind and to try to take the whole experience in,” Szymanski said. “Respect the story of the characters and the people that they are portraying.”