That’s a Wrap: CTAA’s “Rent, School Edition”

Rent is loosely based on the 1896 opera,

Charles Tothina | Mililani Times

Rent is loosely based on the 1896 opera, "La Boheme." It also won the Pulitzer Prize drama in 1996.

Trey Yamamoto, Reporter

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    From Sept. 28 to 30, MHS students, alongside students from Kapolei, Kaimuki, Radford, Castle and Kalani High School performed “Rent, School Edition” at the Pearl City Cultural Center (PCCC). The play was a rendition of the 1996 Broadway, rock drama and romance musical, put on by the Central Theatre Arts Academy (CTAA). The musical proved to be a hit — opening night welcomed a long line of audience members, consisting of students, faculty, parents and their children. The seats of the theatre was nearly filled, and so too was the atmosphere, with joyous anticipation.

    “I think it went incredibly successful, it was a very successful run. I was very pleased with the audience, we had great audience, we had a lot of students there, we had a lot of faculty and staff. We were performing to full houses and the kids did great,” said “Rent” musical director and music theory teacher Kristi Higuchi-Delos Santos.

    In any production at this level, rehearsals are critical to its success. Finding the time to schedule these rehearsals proved to be a challenge in and of itself for the CTAA cast and crew. “Our rehearsal time was very short, we went with a seven week rehearsal run this time, compared to what we have been doing, which is about twelve week rehearsal runs in the past. And then we had rehearsals canceled for hurricanes and possible hurricanes and tropical storms and it was very tenuous and so, we added rehearsal, we can always use more, it’s not necessarily scenes, but just running through the show over and over, and that consistency, we could have used that a little bit more,” said Higuchi-Delos Santos.

     With only the seven weeks of practice and preparation, along with the numerous rehearsal cancellations, the cast had to come together in order to produce a good show. Although working on a tight deadline, the cast and crew were able to overcome challenges such as creating an emotional bond between the audience and the characters, in order to successfully perform the musical. “I think it went a lot better than we expected. In the last week, it came together very well and I think that the audience really enjoyed it,” said Junior and cast member Kimie Fujioka who played Maureen Johnson. Director and theatre teacher Carolyn Taira added, “I thought Rent went really well. We were really happy with the amount of support that we got from the community, and every show, we got a lot of people. And just overall, the show itself, artistically I really, I was really happy with how it turned out.”

     The cast and crew needed to work efficiently as a team to be ready for opening night. With less than anticipated rehearsal time, the performers were able to garner many positive comments and reviews. “I think it was good for the amount of time they had to rehearse it. I heard that they had a month and a half to rehearse it, and to put on a production like that in a month and a half, of that quality is pretty good. I do believe that parts of it were a little rough, however I do still feel like there were a few diamonds in the rough,” said audience member and former CTAA alumnus Christian Howe. Audience member and MHS Sophmore Tristen Fujimoto added, “I really liked it, the cast was so talented, the set was super cool. I saw a few other CTAA performances before, and ‘Rent’ has to be my new favorite. I really loved ‘Seasons of Love’ and how the cast sung together. It gave off a feeling of family.”

    Although the performance ended the weekend successfully, complications throughout the performances were bound to happen. It was the quick reactions of the cast and crew that helped to mask and fix these problems. “There’s always complications, there’s always inevitable sound issues. When you have so many devices being plugged in, devices meaning microphones, lighting going on, all these electrical issues, especially with the sound part, instruments being plugged in, there’s bound to be feedback from just the amount, and the vast amount of things going on. But that’s what doing the show is about, it’s about making adjustments when that happens, finding a way to solve things right away,” said Higuchi-Delos Santos. “And that’s why theatre, live theatre is so important in society, especially if you’re a performer or working it. You have to make adjustments on the fly and it teaches you about resilience and it teaches you about how to make those adjustments. And you just have to move forward, you can’t think about what just happened because there’s a million other things about to happen. And so despite any problems that there was, you just have to go through it, and we always adjust it. Adjust it for that moment and then adjust it for the future.”

     The production of “Rent” had its share of challenges.  One of their biggest challenges was performing mature scenes in the musical to create an emotional impact on the audience and make them feel as though they were a part of the show. “I believe at the end of tech week and going into our shows, we began to work like a well oiled machine. Coming to the realization that we’re all in this together and we need to share this story in the most genuine way possible. Telling this story is truly what brought everybody closer. Being the storytellers to this raw, complex, and emotionally evoking show is what made the audience a part of the show,” said Senior and cast member Shayna Yasunaga who played Mimi Marquez. “I think there was definitely a moment maybe at the beginning of tech week where we felt frustration and anger because things weren’t going as planned. What made us tie together was the comradery that we shared backstage. We were able to bond and share so many laughs as we began the understanding that in order for the audience to feel, we have to give them something to feel. Which resulted in love and passion.”

    When it comes to the upcoming play production performances, the CTAA will be putting on its annual spring musical taking place on the weekend before spring break. Auditions for that show will be on Nov. 29 and 30, a Thursday and Friday. “Beauty and the Beast,” will be put on from March 15 to 17 2019 at the PCCC.

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