Sunday, October 17, 2010

Singers project to the rafters in Shreveport Little Theater Academy's production of Rent at Anderson Auditorium, Centenary College; shows continue to Oct 24

Isaac Haas, in profile, threw his large eyes upon Erin Davis, petite but also large of eyes. Their melodies alternated - both have strong, sweet voices - and then blended into a melodious cat's howl.

It was the Shreveport Little Theater Academy's production of Rent on Saturday night, where expressions exploded and the singing was super.

Director Jared Watson has taken a group of talented and handsome teens, found their strengths and cast them like butter into a sautee pan.

Zhailon Levingston threw himself around the stage and molded his rich voice to numerous melodies. Gentry Williams beamed and crooned with capable abandon.

Anchoring the stage with a voice so righteous that it rolls effortlessly from blues to opera was Emily Mwakitawa. Following in her vocal footsteps were Emma Foreman and Wallace Rakoczy, both passionate young wailers.

Kaelon Gerard, a tall lad with thick vocal timbre, was, like all the principals, able to trippingly dance across the stage while hitting his notes.

Yet a major component was missing from this version of Rent: no band. The excellent ensemble that SLTA has used under music director Adam Philley was caught in a schedule conflict, explained director Watson.

What a shame, not to pick up a substitute group of musicians!

Rent is a not an easy show for a teen cast. It's a story of poverty, prostitution, hard drugs, death - and life before texting. Rent also has a complex storyline. Reading the outline before seeing the show would not be a waste of time.

Teens want a show that reflects their striving for independence. Watson explained that, "This is the show these kids really wanted to do." And if there's a full measure of raunch, there's also a positive side to Rent: it glorifies friendship, loyalty, community and endurance.

In the end, this production of Rent is notable for vocal power and kinetic verve.

Even without live music it offers a worthy evening of entertainment.

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