“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. How do you measure, measure a year?”
Whether it’s your first time or your 100th time hearing those lyrics, you
won’t want to miss the Department of Theatre Arts’ upcoming production of “Rent”
at the University of Mississippi.
Joe Turner Cantu, associate professor of theatre, directs the full-stage
version of the hit musical. The 20-member cast storms the stage at the Gertrude
C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10-11 and 2 p.m. Nov.
13. Tickets are $12.50 for general admission. Reservations can be made through
the UM Box Office by calling 662-915-7411. This show contains adult
The audience is invited to join the cast and crew for an opening night reception immediately following the performance.
On Monday (Nov. 7), Cantu and the cast join Robin Webb, executive director of A Brave New Day Inc., for a brown bag lecture on “AIDS in America – Art and
Discussion: A Roundtable in Celebration of Ole Miss Theatre’s production of ‘Rent.’” The free public lecture begins at noon in the Sarah Isom Center, 203
Johnson Commons East.
“Rent” is a rock opera based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera, “La Boheme.” It tells the unforgettable story of a group of impoverished young artists and
musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of AIDS. “Rent” ran a
groundbreaking 12-year course in New York, making it the seventh longest running show in Broadway history.
“This music and its lyrics are so emotional. Even the coldest heart will be moved,” said Cantu, who first saw “Rent” on Broadway in 1997. “‘Rent’ is not
just about dying of AIDS; it’s about living with hope. In the end, ‘Rent’ is a celebration of the human spirit.”
It is “Rent’s” message of hope, love and understanding that attracted Jonathan Whitmire to join the production as conductor.
“With timeless words and lyrics, Larson was able to reveal not just human suffering and struggles, but human survival,” said Whitmire, graduate instructor
and Ph.D. candidate.
“I’d like for the audience to revel in Larson’s genius music and lyrics,” Cantu said. “I’d also like for them to gain some empathy for people living with
HIV/AIDS and all our homeless and disenfranchised or oppressed Americans.”
For the production, Nathan Ford, sophomore theatre arts major from Starkville, plays the role of Mark Cohen, a struggling documentary filmmaker and
best friend of Roger Davis, an HIV-positive musician who is recovering from heroin addiction, played by Alex Hargett, junior theatre arts major from Tupelo.
Jade Genga, sophomore psychology major from East Greenwich R.I., is Mimi Marquez, a sexy HIV-positive stripper and dancer who is also a heroin junkie and
Roger’s love interest.
The rest of the primary cast includes: Dominique McClellan, 2010 journalism graduate, as Tom Collins, a gay anarchist with AIDS; Nick Bredosky, senior
theatre arts major from Southaven, as Benjamin “Benny” Coffin III, landlord; Bryce Slocumb, junior theatre arts major from Clinton, as Angel Schunard, a
young drag queen with AIDS; Kellee Fuller, senior theatre arts major from Memphis, as Joanne Jefferson, an Ivy League lesbian lawyer; and Kelly Barker,
junior theatre arts major from Hattiesburg, as Maureen Johnson, a lesbian performance artist.
Joining Cantu and Whitmire on “Rent’s” creative team are Martha Hitch, UM music professor emeritus, as vocal director; and Rene Pulliam, associate
professor of theatre arts, choreographer.
For assistance related to a disability, call 662-915-7411. For a complete list of Department of Theatre Arts 2011-12 season visit,