EVERYONE was amazing. And I do mean everyone. Normally I expect one or two to be off, or just not quite my taste. It came as a surprise to me that absolutely everyone sang brilliantly. Of course it helped that Roger was the original S. African Idol winner (Heinz Winckler) and that Collins (Anwar Robinson) was one of the Top 10 in American Idol's 4th season. Normally, I'm against the idea of pop idols in live theater as it takes away opportunities from actors. However, I must say this was definitely an exception to my rule. They certainly did not pull any shortcuts with this cast!
Okay, now onto the cast:
I was hugely impressed with the first song (RENT). The mikes worked perfectly and I could hear every word. The music was loud and very good. The stage was filled up nicely. The Orpheum in Sioux City doesn't have the largest stage, but it was decent sized and didn't seem too crowded. This was also the first chance to hear the entire cast as a whole. Beautiful!
Mark - The night we saw the show, he was played by understudy Corey Joseph Mach. His performance only goes to prove that the entire cast was great. He held the humor as well as the loneliness Mark encompasses.
Angel - Adorable!. I was terribly jealous of the guy's legs... It's just not right!. His voice was also beautiful. Amazing that a man can sing that high! His death also made me all out cry.
Collins - Anwar Robinson was certainly different in appearance from any other photos I've seen of Tom Collins. However, the braided hair added a nice touch to the NYC bohemian teacher-turned-anarchist. When he sang "Santa Fe" and "I'll Cover You", the tenor was certainly a different touch though still beautiful. I cried at the reprise of "I'll Cover You" during the funeral scene of course.
Benny - John Watson reminded me very pleasantly of Tay Diggs. I normally don't care for the role of Benny. However, Watson made me want to watch even him.
Mimi - The Mimi I saw was also an understudy. When she first came out, I was a little concerned. She looked quite different from how I imagined her: much darker skin color (not hispanic at all), and hair cropped short and very wild. That was all until I heard her sing however. She sounded *incredible*! I quickly forgot about her physical appearance. ESPECIALLY when she and Heinz sang "Another Day/ No Day But Today" together. They definitely had chemistry together!
Joanne - I loved her too. Especially the purpley streaks in her hair. Onyie Nwachuckwu rocked the stage as the lesbian-no nonsense-lawyer too. She and Maureen (Christine Dwyer) had shown the same chemistry Winckler and 'Mimi' had. The couple were simple on fire during 2nd act's "Take Me Or Leave Me", their voices blending perfectly. Nwachuckwu's frustration/dispare with Maureen was was also well portrayed all throughout the show.
Maureen - Christine Dwyer had energy! This is good, as the first time you truly see Maureen is right before her performance/protest close to the end of the 1st act. Maureen is the female character I'd love to play and Dwyer reminded me as to why. I even mooed when she asked. Of course, what true RENThead doesn't?? My friend I was with that night claims I was the loudest.
Roger (Did you think I'd forget him?!) - Heinz Winckler!! What else can I say? Let's see....oh yes! He has a wonderfully lovely voice! Roger is my favorite character in the entire show and Heinz had done the role complete justice in my eyes! Being from South Africa, he had never even heard of RENT until the movie arrived there. This was a big plus as he could make Roger his own instead of worrying about having to fill such shoes as those of Adam Pascal's (the original cast 'Roger' and that role in the movie). The moment he came on stage, cheers rose up. I was one of them of course. And when he sang "One Song Glory" I actually swooned!
Naturally we stopped at the stage door afterward to get actors' autographs and to snap some pictures. Oh. My. GOD! Heinz is even prettier up close! He also spoke in his gorgeous accent. It was all I could do to keep standing as he placed his arm around me for a picture. Shame he's married He was VERY polite and very appreciative of the entire audience that night. Of course, Sioux City is know for that. My friend and I was able to get most of the leads save for Maureen, Joanne, and Benny.
While my friend and I were leaving, some of the actors approached us and asked if I could give them a ride back to the Holiday Inn. It was FREEZING outside and apparently their shuttle had yet to arrive. Containing squeals, I drove Corey Joseph Mach (later finding out he was the 'Mark' that night) and Dustin Brayley (Steve, among others) to the hotel, which wasn't very far away. They were extremely polite and enjoyed listening to the Spanish version of RENT we had playing in the car. Upon arriving, my friend and I got their autographs and I got a picture with them before they went indoors. The one quote I remember from Corey is, "We'll probably get a Note tomorrow saying 'Please don't ask fans for rides after the show' or something." It still seems like a dream to me. However, I have pictures to prove it's real.
That was a night I will never forget!
Awesome job everyone! Thanks Corey and Dustin for making my evening!!!!!!