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New Hyde Park Illustrated News - Schools

Rent Theatre Performance At Levels

It’s the rock musical that electrified a generation. Levels presents a “Next Stage” production of Jonathan Larson’s Rent, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 22, 23 and 24 at 8 p.m. in Levels, Great Neck Main Library, 159 Bayview Avenue. Admission is free, but seating is limited.


Levels, the Great Neck Library’s cultural center for teenagers, presents several fully staged theatre productions each year - all directed, produced, designed and performed entirely by students 7th grade and up. “Next Stage” Productions are created, rehearsed and principally financed outside of Levels by advanced students, using Levels as a co-producer and a performance venue.


Book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, based loosely on Puccini’s opera La Boheme, Rent is the story of eight friends living in the AIDS ravaged New York City of the 1990s. Roger, Mimi, Tom, Angel, Maureen, Joanne, Benny and Mark struggle with everything from romantic entanglements, to preserving their artistic integrity, to the life and death struggle with a disease that is threatening almost everyone they know.  


Rent won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as four Tony Awards (including Best Musical). Tragically, author Larson did not live to see this success, as he died of an aortic aneurysm the morning after the final dress rehearsal. But his last work lived on, becoming the ninth longest running musical in Broadway history. A 2005 movie followed, starring most of the original stage cast, and then a successful Off-Broadway revival was presented at New World Stages in 2011.


This production of Rent is directed by Michael Levinson, who also directed last summer’s “Next Stage” Production, Edges: A Song Cycle. Musical direction is by Jane Coons, with choreography by Ariel Heller-Sabet. Alex Kaufman is assistant director. Matt Sotiriou serves as producer, with lighting design by Christopher Wong and set design by Michael Levinson.


The cast of high school and college students includes Michelle Geffner, Kelsey Gronda, Ariel Heller-Sabet, Alex Kaufman, Justin Kelly, James Kennedy, Michael Levinson, Lili Notovitz, Matthew Sotiriou, Jonathan Schindler, Jacob Szilagi and Gio Xu. The band features Adam Angel on drums, Todd Reiss on guitar and Polina Senderova on keyboard.


Showtime: 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. for ticketholders and 7:45 p.m. for non-ticketholders. Tickets are free of charge and are intended to guarantee seating. They are available at the circulation desk of all Great Neck Library facilities while they last. Open to the public. Contact: Levels at 516-466-8055 ext. 216.


Please Note: Rent contains mature language and situations. Audience discretion is advised.