Kevin Armstrong (left) is seen here performing in Rent

Rent hits the road

Local troupe takes show on tour to four East Kootenay communities.

A Nelson theatre troupe will hit the road with their production of Rent next month, bringing it to Creston, Cranbrook, Invermere and Golden.

Director Kevin Armstrong said it’s a production he’s been hoping to stage for years, and now he’s finally getting the chance.

“I was just blown away from the first song,” said the Nelson native. “I’d never seen another show like it. Broadway is usually glitz and glamour, not dust and dirt.”

Armstrong pulls double duty in the production, also playing character Tom Collins, a philosophy professor with AIDS.

“I don’t make my job easy for myself doing that. On the other hand, it’s artistically satisfying because I’m involved in the production on two totally different levels.”

Based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème, Rent follows the lives of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York City’s Lower East Side, under the shadow of poverty, homophobia, addiction, gentrification and the deadly threat of AIDS.

Although the show tackles some heavy subject matter, the play also features moments of levity.

One is the song Santa Fe, in which the characters dream about starting a new life.

“Let’s open up a restaurant in Santa Fe. Oh, sunny Santa Fe would be nice,” they sing.

The show features a wide range of musical styles, including rock and roll, tango, R&B and pop.

“They’re not going to expect what we’re going to offer them, which is a show with a lot of energy, exuberance, youth and volume,” said Armstrong.

The shows will be touring through the Kootenays from November 13 to 16.

The troupe presented a version of Rent in Nelson in March.

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