I caught the penultimate show of Judge Memorial High School's production of Rent last Friday. This was the production that had a few Utah Catholics upset for what they saw as promoting homosexuality. The play's director, Darin Hathaway, came out on stage before the performance and noted that they'd sold 3,000 tickets. "It's not a gay show," he said. "It doesn't glorify Aids. [...] You'll see the face of God in each kid on this stage."---
He didn't exaggerate.
The high school version of the 1996 Broadway musical, despite some uneven performances -- this is high school afterall -- nevertheless featured some stellar singing and hoofing during the two-hour-plus journey through the lives of seven struggling young artists. Ashlyn Lozano, Kami Riffo-Jensen and Andrew Maguire, deservedly the audience's favorite, all delivered powerful, convincing performances.
Maguire in particular as the Aids-doomed, cross-dressing Angel was remarkably poised and adept at exploring his character's fiery yet gentle persona.
It was a provocative production that had the audience on its feet in ovation at the end. The glow on the cast's faces as they lined up to receive the applause might not have been literally divine, but it was close enough.