SCRANTON — If your wallet hints you have more in common with aspiring film maker Mark or struggling musician Roger than with say, Joanne the lawyer or Benny the landlord, here’s some good news.
You can arrive early, stand in line and perhaps land a seat for “Rent” for a slim $20 when the Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania brings the show’s 20th anniversary tour to the Scranton Cultural Center Nov. 18-20.
The $20 tickets, for seats in the first two rows of the orchestra section, cost a fraction of the ordinary $40-$60 price and they’ll be available two hours before each performance to be sold in person, cash only, with a limit of two per customer.
“We wanted to continue the tradition,” actor Danny Kornfeld said, explaining the “ticket rush” custom dates back to 1996, when the show moved to Broadway, and it makes the musical more accessible to people who, like most of its artist characters, aren’t exactly millionaires.
If you’ve never seen the musical, or the 2005 movie version, “Rent” will introduce you to Mimi, a strip club dancer who has the first name as the title character in Puccini’s “La Boheme,” the opera on which the musical is loosely based; a teacher named Collins, a drag queen named Angel and a songwriter named Roger.
All four of these characters are HIV-positive during the late 1980s/early 1990s, when having AIDS was a death sentence.
“I was very young when the musical first came out,” said Kornfeld, who grew up in Michigan. “I never knew what AIDS was before the movie.”
In the show, Kornfeld portrays Roger’s roommate, Mark Cohen, a man with a camera who is less interested in commercial success than in making a quality documentary.
“He’s an observer,” Kornfeld said, explaining Mark watches the drama in the lives of his friends.
“The worst part for him is seeing Roger and Mimi break up and having Roger push (Mark) away and run away from his problems,” Kornfeld said, suggesting Mark might find that even worse than losing his old girlfriend, Maureen, to an attorney named Joanne.
This being a musical, Joanne and Mark dance together and sing a duet about their mutual frustrations with “the dark, dizzy merry-go-round” where Maureen keeps people “dangling.”
The “Tango Maureen” is one of the best parts of the show, said Kornfeld, who also enjoys the energy of “La Vie Boheme,” when he and his cast mates get up on a table to sing and dance about their unconventional, Bohemian lifestyles.
“I love the fact that everybody is onstage together,” he said.
While the story has its sad moments that illustrate how short life can be, the actor said, its message is an uplifting one.
“It’s all about embracing the moment, about inclusion and community and family and celebrating,” he said. “And it doesn’t matter how long you live, it’s what you make of your life.”
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT
IF YOU GO
Where: Scranton Cultural Center, 420 N. Washington Ave.
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 18; 2 and 8 p.m. Nov. 19; 1 p.m. Nov. 20