By Rebecca Osowski – Features Editor
After a fully virtual performance of “Just Another Day,” a cabaret written by local playwright Kevin Micheal Morrin, Lasell University’s Drama Club returns to the stage alongside Regis College with the production of the Fall Musical “RENT,” by Jonathan Larson.
The musical follows seven friends over the course of a year, living in lower Manhattan. “RENT” touches on many controversial topics of the 1990s including the HIV/AIDS crisis and homelessness, with an overall theme of acceptance.
Director and Lasell 2015 alum Jamie Imperato, describes the musical as “the Hamilton of the 90s,” as it has had a strong impact on musical theater.
Imperato has a variety of emotions about being back in the theater after COVID-19 and directing “RENT,” a show that relates to issues still being faced today.
Imperato is honored and intimidated to take on the challenge of directing “RENT” as it is a classic show and has a large following called ‘Rent Heads’, fans who spent nights on the streets of New York City when the show first opened to get front row seats. “[RENT] is such a staple. If you are going to do “RENT,” you’re going to do it the right way,” Imperato said.
On the other hand, she is emotional as she can reconnect with students who she has not seen in person in over a year and bring the arts back to campus. “The arts community is so inclusive and it’s a safe space….Just to see these students…come in here and do what they love for the first time in a long time, it’s very emotional,” Imperato said.
For the first time ever, the Lasell and Regis community invited alums and graduate students to audition and be a part of the fall musical. One of Imperato’s goals with coming back to direct the musical was to get people back into the theater and welcome them back into something that was predominantly for undergraduate students. Not only will the alums help provide an adult presence in a musical with very mature themes, but they are also able to finish what they started as most of the alums returning to the stage graduated in 2019 and 2020.
Cassidy Phillips, a junior in her third year with the Drama Club is excited to be back on stage. “I am really grateful for [the alums]…I think they are going to help bring the maturity this show needs and help lead the way,” Phillips said.
Despite the intense themes, both Imperato and Phillips believe this show presents topics we all can connect with. “This show deals with a lot of issues… people can relate to. I think it is something that will bring everyone together,” Phillips said.
The fall musical will open at Regis College on November 17 with evening shows on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and close with a matinee performance on November 20. Shuttles will be available to bring students to Regis on show days at no cost.