Fans of the musical RENT already know what a rich tapestry of messages and meaning it is; it reflects a complexity and modernity present in few other musicals. Based on Puccini’s opera, La Boheme, the show addresses deep and often difficult aspects of modern life…a life that can be very hard, not least of all, for teenagers today. The show, viewed by some at first glance as controversial, is ultimately less about lifestyle or sexual orientation as it is about acceptance and forgiveness, and about self-respect and being true to one’s dreams.
I hope people appreciate how impressive this undertaking was. RENT sets a high technical bar, especially in terms of vocal work, and the entire cast did an incredible job (speaking as a parent of cast members). Indeed, these students truly inhabited their roles and, in every show, moved audiences to tears. The families and community that supported them, too, should be commended. Since 2007, when the ‘school edition’ of RENT was first released, many have considered staging it but few were given the approval and encouragement. However, our community, school district and, especially, the Hoboken High School student body embraced the work and did it proud.
Presenting RENT wasn’t just a demonstration of the progressive district we are, or what a serious, accomplished theater program we have, but also of the tolerance, acceptance and togetherness that this student community reflects. When I talk to parents in other schools it’s difficult to quantify the exceptional degree of unity our students enjoy. But what better way to measure a school than by the powerful diversity we have at Hoboken High School and a year in which we both won the state football championship and hit a home run with this production of RENT.
I thank and congratulate all involved for supporting this production, and I applaud director Danielle Miller, her production team and, of course, the student cast for a brilliantly executed and truly inspired performance of this very special musical.