Piedmont University students including, Maddox of Monroe,showcase talents in Rock Musical RENT

press release from Merit Pages

Contributed photo

DEMOREST, GA (10/05/2023)– The Piedmont University Theatre Department opened the 2023-24 MainStage season with the award-winning musical RENT Sept. 28-Oct.1. The ground-breaking production written by Jonathan Larson is about living as well as you can for as long as you can.

RENT tells the story of several modern-day Bohemian characters living in the East Village in Manhattan during the mid-90s, focusing on their lives as they tackle heavy issues like AIDS, homophobia, poverty, and drug addiction. The story follows Mark, an aspiring filmmaker, his roommate Roger, a songwriter and former drug addict, and their friends as they confront the challenges of everyday life in the artistic lower class while trying to find happiness.

Cast members included leading players Ethan Spinks of Kingsland, Ga., in the role of Roger Davis; Gabriel Richman of Dallas, Ga., in the role of Mark Cohen; Dante Wilson of Gainesville, Ga., in the role of Tom Collins; Tommie Sirmans of Lawrenceville, Ga., in the role of Benjamin Coffin III; Gracie Tipton of Gainesville, Ga., in the role of Joanne Jefferson; Clayton Maddox of Monroe, Ga., in the role of Angel Dumott Schunard; Dakota Rose Chen of Bogart, Ga., in the role of Mimi Marquez; and Lexie Partain of Elberton, Ga., in the role of Maureen Johnson.

Ensemble Players included Glorianna Ames of Winder, Ga., Sarah Bunker of Sautee, Ga., Aubrie Burrell of Dallas, Ga., MacKenzie Cain (no hometown listed), Tucker Cochran of Tucker, Ga., Max Daves of Toccoa, Ga., Alivia Fuller of Lawrenceville, Ga., Delyna Fuller, of Lawrenceville, Ga., Ava Kerpics of Lawrenceville, Ga., Laurana Layton of Valdosta, Ga., Jenna Meinberg of Suwanee, Ga., and Lyric Rogers (no hometown listed).

RENT was performed. on the Mainstage Theatre in the Swanson Center for Performing Arts & Communications in Demorest.

RENT director Bill Gabelhausen reminisced about his time as a young actor in New York City.

“During the final semester of my undergraduate studies in 1987, I interned in New York City at Soble/LaPadura Casting Agency and Clyde Vinson’s Acting Studio. At that time, Jonathan Larson was refining and polishing a musical called RENT. Little did I, or anyone else, know that he would ultimately write the anthem for all actors who were waiting tables, writers who were working as accountants, or street performers who longed to be loved and labeled as ‘normal.’ Thank you, Jonathan Larson. Your message will live on in the hearts and minds of the aspiring theatre artists here at Piedmont University Theatre.”

Gabelhausen directed the Piedmont production, while Benji Stegner, a Piedmont alum and member of the Piedmont music faculty, was the music director. Alumni Jo Collinson was the assistant choreographer, and senior Sof Delgado of Orlando, Fla., served as stage manager.

For more information about Piedmont University, visit piedmont.edu.

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