A PREVIEW performance of the international musical RENT at Sydney’s Hayes Theatre will double up as a fundraiser for ACON’s HIV support services.

Produced by Toby Francis, the show stars some of Australia’s musical talents including Australian Idol winner Casey Donovan and The Voice contestant Laura Bunting.

Director Shaun Renni said he and his team were thrilled to be partnering with ACON to help raise money for services that support people living with HIV.

RENT is about a community of people celebrating life in the face of AIDS at the end of last century, so we couldn’t be more excited to be presenting this special preview performance for ACON,” Renni said.

“With ACON’s instrumental place in fighting HIV, AIDS and its stigmas, both old and new, we are proud to be supporting ACON and the great work they do.”

Set in the early 1990s during the height of the HIV and AIDS crisis, the musical tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in New York City’s diminishing bohemian neighbourhood of East Village. Development has pushed people from their borough, disease withers loved ones from their lives, and a group of friends fight for their place in the face of such quiet vanishing.

Stephen Madsen plays the role of Mark, a struggling documentary filmmaker and best friend of Roger, a HIV-positive musician who is recovering from heroin addiction played by Linden Furnell. Loren Hunter is Mimi, a HIV-positive stripper and dancer who is also a heroin junkie and Roger’s love interest. Laura Bunting plays spunky performance artist Maureen, who is Mark’s ex-girlfriend and current girlfriend of Joanne, a tough, headstrong Harvard-educated lawyer played by Casey Donovan.

Collins, the HIV-positive philosophy teacher, friend and former roommate of Roger, Mark, and Maureen, is played by Nana Matapule. Chris Scalzo has been cast in the role of Angel, a HIV-positive drag queen with a heart of gold and Collins’ love interest. Benny, played by Matthew Pearce, is the former friend and landlord of Mark, Roger and Mimi’s apartment.

Jonathan Larson’s RENT first opened off-Broadway in 1996 and quickly became a global phenomenon. The show earned Larson multiple Tony Awards along with a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a distinction not received again by a music theatre work until 14 years later.

Though Larson himself never saw the impact of his masterwork – he died suddenly in the early hours of the very day the show opened to the public – its longevity serves as a testament to the emotional resonance of his creation and an embodiment of its message: “No day but today.”

Guests at the fundraising performance of RENT on Thursday, October 8 will not only be the first to see the production but will also attend an after party with the cast and crew.

The full season of RENT concludes November 1. Full details and tickets, visit the Hayes Theatre website. 

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