Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Reader's Perspective: NPH's RENT at the Hollywood Bowl

I am pleased to give you our first A Reader's Perspective - featuring a guest post from a reader of A Liberal's Libretto.

But first, a little backstory - I saw a Tweet from one of our readers that he was going to be attending the Neil Patrick Harris directed production of RENT at the Hollywood Bowl - so, naturally, I asked him to write his thoughts.

I am floored by the fact that after months of sending the same request to many of our other readers, I finally got a response! Friends, L.E. Tenney fully came through for Yours Truly. Here are his thoughts in their entirety:

[I] tend to agree for the most part with pro reviews of @actuallyNPH's [Neil Patrick Harris] production of RENT last weekend at the Hollywood Bowl but here's my two cents...

First, the expanded cast and orchestra created a fabulous sound in the Bowl. I've seen the show in four other venues and including the original Broadway cast on stage at the Nederlander. I heard words and music that I never heard in those venues nor on CD or DVD. When the cast stretched across the entire proscenium of the Bowl stage for "Seasons of Love" and earlier gathered center stage to celebrate "La vie Boheme" - the moment, effect and performance was stunning, injecting joy and life into the big Bowl.

I, for one, did not go to the performance expecting full on staging. I simply thought it would be more of a semi-staged event. And my seats were in the near nose bleed section. The Jumbotrons were more than adequate and besides I went for the music as should anyone who goes to the Bowl and sits outside the boxes.

To think this cast rehearsed and performed a full production that was staged only three times is more than commendable.

The cast:

Vanessa Hudgens was a disappointment. She put a lot into her sexy dance moves when a performance in a venue like the Bowl should emphasize the music. It wasn't until after her performance of "Out Tonight" that she seemed to finally arrive vocally.

The actor Aaron Tveit who played Roger was phenomenal especially when I realized he was the same guy who played the young Congressman Trip Van der Bilt on the last season of Gossip Girl. (Remember the spoiled little Kennedy-esque douche who had an affair with Blake Lively's character Serena until they had their own little Chappaquidick moment in the Hamptons?) As it turns out Tveit has a solid musical theater pedigree. I'll be on the lookout for him in the future.

Wayne Brady deserves props for his turn as Collins but for me and everyone seated around me the standout of the nite was Nicole Scherzinger (Pussy Cat Doll and current holder of DWTS's Mirrored Ball Trophy) who knocked it out of the Bowl with her versions of "Over The Moon" and the duet "Take Me or Leave Me". With both numbers she connected with the audience inside the Bowl -- even those of us anticipating nose bleeds.

Applause also to Skylar Astin who played Mark and to Tracie Thoms and Telly Leung who reprised roles of Joanne and Angel respectively.

Biggest disappointment of the night: failure by NPH to take the stage!

The show as a whole musically rocked the Bowl. It's too bad it had such a limited run. -L.E. Tenney

Many thanks to L. for taking the time and for allowing me to post.

[Photo: Director Neil Patrick Harris with Vanessa Hudgens as Mimi and Aaron Tveit as Roger. By Ed Krieger for]

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