Rent at the Hippodrome is as electric as lightning

The cast of Rent, presented by Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Company, taken by Gilly Fontaine-Grist. (s)
The cast of Rent, presented by Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Company, taken by Gilly Fontaine-Grist. (s)

If there’s one thing I know, it’s this: Pendle’s reputation for talent is as solid as a rock.


That’s the message which rang out clearly during a performance of Rent at the Hippodrome this week, even if the show was sometimes hard to follow.

Jonathan Larson’s rock musical, it seems, is the Cardiacs of musical theatre.

Frontman Tim Smith and co, of the English rock band, have amassed a cult-like following for their genre-defying, Marmite-type sound.

Jolting listeners through a spectrum of rock, some find genius in Cardiacs’ discord while others will say it isn’t their cup of tea.


It’d be surprising if audiences divided themselves so starkly after watching Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Company’s production of Rent. Because the level of talent is fantastic.

It’s just the musical is a fusion of melodic brilliance and boundary-pushing rock that sometimes swerves into dissonance.

But then, rebellion is part of the fun. And, after all, this is a politically-motivated show exploring drug use, sexual orientation and gender identity - part of its magic is its flamboyant disregard of neatly defined conventions.

It’s the tale of poor, young artists struggling to survive in New York during the Aids epidemic of the late 80s.

The plot emerged like a gorgeous mosaic with a few missing stones: it was at times difficult to catch the dialogue over the power of the music.

But it didn’t matter. Because the night was still electrifying.

Leading the way were: Director, Josh Hindle; Musical Director, Jack Herbert; Choreographer, Helen Cheung; and Accompanist, Matthew Hoyle.

The team has united some of the area’s brightest in musical theatre to build an army of performers with stunning vocals. Take principals Blue Blezard, Gary Leonard, Alex Pemberton, Alice Butterfield, Jess McGlinchey, Ben Fontaine, Cathryn Osborne and Sam Crabtree. And it can’t go unmentioned that many of the supporting cast members could give them a run for their money.

And despite the plot and dialogue issues, emotion and character shone through. The production has vibrant personalities and the cast captured them with ease.

So if you’re looking for something to brighten up an autumn night, get set for a show that will rock audiences like lightning.

Performances continue tonight and tomorrow, starting at 7-30pm at Pendle Hippodrome Theatre, New Market Street, Colne.

For tickets call 01282 863210, visit www.phtheatre.co.uk or pay on the door.