Tag Archives: DC Theatre Scene

Rent is at an All Time High at National Theatre


I first saw Rent at National Theatre about 22 years ago, just over a year after it debuted on Broadway and was an instant hit. It was one of those powerful theatre experiences that sticks with you, something greater than the beautiful story told on stage through sensational performances and stirring music.

Rent pushed boundaries in a way that no other Broadway show had before as it explored themes of life and love and friendship. The story follows the lives of seven artists over a year in the 1990’s struggling to achieve their dreams and navigate their relationships — in the shadow of the AIDS crisis. It was raw and edgy and unapologetic as the storyline included addiction, homosexuality (and homophobia), and a disease associated with panic and fear. It was also hopeful, inspiring, and joyous as it celebrated life and love and friendship, and prompted audiences to ponder what matters, how they measure a year in the life.

Fast forward 20+ years, and Rent is back in DC at the National Theatre on the 20th Anniversary Tour. When I was invited to see the show to review for KFDC, I jumped at the opportunity. But I would have gone to see it, anyway, having loved it so much the first time. I wondered, though, would it hold up after all these years? Was it just the timing that made it strike the chord it did back in the 90’s, when AIDS angst was intense and incorporating it into a musical a novel idea?

Well, as the title of this post indicates, Rent holds up — and then some. The show was just as phenomenal, if not more, than it was all those years ago. Perhaps it has to do with my perspective and seeing the characters from a maternal point of view more than as a peer (amazing what changes in 20+ years). Or maybe this time I was processing less and just enjoying more. Regardless, I loved it. All of the performances were brilliant, delivered with passion and grit, but I have to note that Joshua Taveres as Angel, Kelsee Sweigard as Maureen, and Shafiq Hicks as Tom Collins were especially wonderful.

The score is still soul stirring, and this time I had to hold myself back from bursting into song along with the cast. The story, while viewed a bit differently as the AIDS situation has changed, captures that period of time in a powerfully evocative way. And the heart of the show, its themes of life and love and friendship, remain steadfastly universal.

I highly recommend seeing Rent during its run at National Theatre. And when you do and hear the question “How do you measure, measure a year?”… I think the answer will be easy.

RENT – 20th Anniverary Tour
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: November 12-17, 2019
Tickets: $54 – $117 (look for discounts)
Run time: 2 hours, 35 minutes, including one intermission
Recommended for ages 13 and up.


Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to see and review Rent, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.


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Filed under 2019, Date Night, DC, Fall, Live Entertainment, Teens, Theatre, Weekdays, Weekend

Giveaway: RENT, the 20th Anniversary Tour, is Coming to National Theatre!


“How do you measure, measure a year?”

If that line makes you want to start singing about 525,600 minutes (or if you haven’t heard it but are intrigued), then you’ll be excited about this: RENT, the hit Broadway musical, is coming to National Theatre in November on its 20th Anniversary Tour! And I have a pair of tickets up for grabs for the opening night performance.

In 1996, an original rock musical by a little-known composer opened on Broadway…and forever changed the landscape of American theatre. Two decades later, Jonathan Larson’s RENT continues to speak loudly and defiantly to audiences across generations and all over the world. Now, this Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning masterpiece returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production.

A reimagining of Puccini’s La Bohème, RENT follows an unforgettable year in the lives of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams without selling out. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters — love.

RENT – 20th Anniverary Tour
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: November 12-17, 2019
Tickets: $54 – $117
Run time: 2 hours, 35 minutes, including one intermission
Recommended for ages 13 and up

* * * * *

Giveaway: For a chance to win a pair of tickets to see RENT at National Theatre on November 12, 2019, at 7:30pm, simply leave a comment below telling me your favorite song from a musical. Get an extra chance to win by entering on the KidFriendly DC Facebook Page, too. This giveaway will run through Friday, November 1, 2019, then a winner will be picked at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!


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Filed under 2019, DC, Fall, Giveaway, Live Entertainment, Music, Theatre, Ticket Giveaway, Weekdays, Weekend

KFDC Review: Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Romeo and Juliet

Photo courtesy of Shakespeare Theatre Company

Photo courtesy of Shakespeare Theatre Company



If a production of the classic Shakespearean tragedy Romeo and Juliet could be deemed fun, the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s current version of the story of star-crossed lovers is it. This modern day take on the play is loaded with LOL moments and an edgy flare that gives it a playful yet still dramatic tone. And at a show where we all know what happens, it’s this unique presentation that makes it so appealing.

From the opening scene when servants of both the Capulets and Montagues have a confrontational encounter, a contemporary aesthetic and air is established. The characters are dressed in modern clothes with accents that sound more New York than Renaissance. And the set is a deep red with mod furnishings, giving it all a loungy club feel. This vibe is at its peak during the Capulet’s party, where Romeo and Juliet have their love-at-first-sight moment amidst a partying crowd dancing to DJ-spun techno, a fantastically choreographed scene that is mesmerizing to watch.

Photo courtesy of Shakespeare Theatre Company

Photo courtesy of Shakespeare Theatre Company

As for the laughs, most are elicited from Juliet’s nurse, played by Inga Ballard, who injects sass and humor into the role. And Mercutio, played by Jeffrey Carolson, delivers his lines with such a dude-like cynicism, you can’t help but chuckle when he speaks.

And speaking of characters, I have to note the main ones, played by Andrew Veenstra and Ayana Workman, were perfectly cast. His Romeo was earnest and endearing (not to mention quite handsome!), and her Juliet unjaded and exuberant. They have great chemistry and convey the drama of lovestruck teens exceptionally well.

Most of the “lighter” parts of the production occur in the first act and are balanced by darker drama in the second as the familiar plot unfolds. But the turn of the mood in no way deflects from the performance on stage, which is thoroughly captivating.

So, we all know how it ends (though on the chance you don’t, beware the spoilers in the image below), but it’s the execution of the play leading up to the finale that makes this production special. It also makes it one I’d recommend for kids, mature tweens and up. (I discussed this with the friend who joined me, and she agreed.) Of course, it would make for a great KidFree outing, too.

A little fun in the lobby during intermission

A little fun in the lobby during intermission

Romeo and Juliet is running at Lansburgh Theatre through November 6. The show is about 2.5 hours long with a 15-minute intermission. Tickets are $44-102.

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets from Shakespeare Theatre Company to see Romeo and Juliet, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.


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Filed under Date Night, DC, Fall, Live Entertainment, Parents, Teens, Theatre, Tweens, Weekdays, Weekend