Footlights Play Rent

Feb 9 2015 | By More

Multi award-winning musical hits Church Hill

The Edinburgh University Footlights return to the Church Hill Theatre this week with a production of the smash hit rock musical Rent.

The show won many of the top honours in 1996, the year it opened on Broadway, including best musical, best score and best book at the Tony Awards – not to mention the the Pulitzer Prize for Literature – for its creator Jonathan Larson.

The main cast of EU Footlights' producion of Rent. Photo: EU Footlights.

The main cast of EU Footlights’ production of Rent. Photo: EU Footlights.

Using Puccini’s opera La Boheme as the basis for his structure, Larson set Rent in New York’s East Village in the late 1980s. A group of impoverished young artists are struggling to survive and create a life under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

The show ran for twelve years on Broadway. Tragically, Larson never saw a full production of it, however, as he died suddenly the night before its off-Broadway premiere.

With strong, memorable songs such as Seasons of Love, the musical’s real genius lay in the way it spoke to the 1990s, young Generation X. Here, at last, were subjects they knew were important, being addressed in the glare of the big stage.

As Rent‘s director Elske Waite says: “This rock-musical brought into the public eye subjects that could never be spoken of, let alone sung about. Homosexuality, transvestites, drug addiction, AIDS, prostitution, poverty, and the fight to live the bohemian life without selling out to the soullessness of commercialism: these issues make rent real and true and important.”

high targets

Footlights has become a company which sets itself high targets. Last year it gave the Scottish premiere of In the Heights and the previous year attacked old favourite West Side Story in a compelling and raw production.

This production carries on with that same sense of purpose, according to producer Lauren McLay.

She told Æ: “Rent is always relevant – because the issues it discusses are still ones that are current today. Problems with AIDS, defining someone’s gender, poverty, and the balance between art and commercialism are all still things that are hotly discussed in the news and media every day.

“Our production is one that keeps these issues absolutely at the heart our everyone involved. Through our work with Waverley Care we’ve made sure that everyone involved is completely informed about the topics Rent deals with.

“It is trying always to keep this sense of grit and truth in every element: in the stage design, in the acting, in the movement – even in the lighting. It’s a production that feels real and honest and one that engages openly with every issue.”


Church Hill Theatre, 33a Morningside Road, EH10 4DR
Tuesday 10 – Saturday 14 February 2015.
Daily: 7.30pm, Saturday matinee: 2.30pm.
Tickets £12.50 (£8.50 concs/£6.50 students) from


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