WINTHROP — A blend of local talent as well as professional actors from New York City will perform “Rent,” the acclaimed musical on three weekends in August.

“Rent” follows a year in the life of seven friends living in New York’s lower East Side. The story focuses on the fear, isolation and love experienced by these friends as they struggle with identities and relationships, and how they ultimately discover the importance of having hope as they live under the shadow of HIV and AIDS. The plot is based on Puccini’s opera “La Boheme.”

“Rent” is being presented by The Fairway Players, formally Maranacook Community Players, which staged “Sweeney Todd” last year.

Sheila Axell, the show’s director, said several members of the cast are young men and women from New York who are friends of her son, Kent Axell Jr., a performing magician. She said they come to Maine for the summer and stay at the Axells’ inn.

“We hear them singing the “Rent” music around here from the time they get up in the morning until they go to bed,” she said.

“The musicality of this group is incredible,” Axell added. “Their ability to put themselves in the roles is uncanny.”

Axell noted that the play is “extremely intense” and parental discretion is advised because of strong language and adult content.

She said the New York performers will be presenting proceeds of the show, after expenses, to the Winthrop Performing Arts Center.

“Seasons of Love” is the musical’s best known song. Others include “One Song Glory,” “Light My Candle,” “I’ll Cover You,” and “What You Own.”

The show’s book, music and lyrics are by Jonathan Larson, who died suddenly the night before the January 1996 off-Broadway premiere. The show won a Pulitzer Prize, and the production was a hit. The musical moved to Broadway that April where “Rent” gained critical acclaim and won a Tony Award for Best Musical. The Broadway production closed after a 12-year run and 5,124 performances.

Kent Axell Jr. will portray Roger. He and two of the New York actors are graduates of the American Musical and Dramatics Academy there. They are Alan Houser, who will play Mark, and Christina Dallons, who portrays Mimi.

Also from New York are Cesar Villavicencio (Otterbein University, Ohio), portraying Angel, and Alex Vanjah Boikai (Ohio State University),who plays Collins.

Bill E. Axell, Manchester, plays Benny; Meg Scully, Winthrop, plays Joanne; and Rebecca Singer, Turner, plays Maureen.

Other members of the The Fairway Players ensemble are Venuz Delmar, Fia Fortune, Lisa Shea, Cory Peaslee, Harmony Lattin, Tyler Banden, David Carter, Buddy Shea, Tyler Huff, Desiree Fortune, Kendra Laliberte and Bailey Sechrist.

Lighting design for “Rent” is by Neal Morton and the set design and construction is by Kent Axell. Promotion is by Beth and Sean Scully.

The band includes Drew Salisbury, lead guitar; Brian Fink, guitar; Tyler Sowers, keyboard; Steve Shea, bass; and James Finison, drums.

Performances at Winthrop Performing Arts Center, a component of Winthrop High School, 211 Rambler Road, Winthrop, are 7 p.m., Aug. 5-6, ; 7 p.m.,  Aug. 12;  2 and 7 p.m., Aug. 13 .; and 7 p.m. Aug..19-20.

For tickets — $10 in advance and $15 at the doo —  call or visit Axell’s Scandinavian Inn, 803 Western Ave., Manchester. Phone 623-4583.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.