For the Cumberland Times-News
CUMBERLAND — The Cumberland Theatre will celebrate its 24th season of equity theater with a Gala Celebration on Friday. The event will feature wine and hors-d’oeuves at 7 p.m., a performance of the musical “Rent” at 8 p.m. and champagne and dessert following the show.
Prior to the performance, the theater’s Board of Trustees will honor the Bob Thompson family for their long-term dedication to the theater.
Andee Thompson will be honored for her enthusiasm and support as a board member and past president and also the many times she has helped out by performing on stage. Bob Thompson, an equity actor who serves as stage manager, has also worked on stage as an actor and singer in many shows. Their daughter, Staci Thompson Calder, a singer, dancer and actress, has performed in many shows, in addition to playing flute in the orchestra for several shows. The Thompson’s son, Joe, who began working with the theater as an assistant lighting designer when he was 14 years old, is now the theater’s professional lighting designer. He has also performed in shows for about 15 years.
The Broadway hit “RENT” by Jonathan Larson is a rock opera, based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera “La Bohème.” It tells the 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 HIV/AIDS.
The musical was first seen at New York Theatre Workshop in 1994. The show’s creator, Larson, died suddenly the night before the off-Broadway premiere. The show won a Pulitzer Prize, and the musical moved to Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre and won several Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The Broadway production closed in 2008, after a 12-year run and 5,124 performances, making it the ninth-longest-running Broadway show at that time. In 2005, it was adapted into a motion picture that featured most of the original cast members.
The Cumberland Theatre cast includes Jeffrey Higgins as Mark; Jordan David Kline as Roger; Chelsea E. Davis as Mimi; Edward Daniels as Tom; Danny Durr as Angel; Lauren Elizabeth Wahl as Maureen; Patricia Targette as Joanne, and Rhett Wolford as Benjamin. The ensemble includes Staci Lee Calder, Hayden Conley, Shelby Herbert, Heather Kline, Hunter Martin, Angela Terhark Merrithew and Josh Ruppenkamp.
Rent opend Thursday and runs until July 31.
Cumberland Theatre’s Bev Walker Gallery will feature some of the many set designs created over the years by Don Whisted and Gary Goodson of DG Set Works.
Reservations for the Gala Celebration or tickets for the production may be obtained by calling the box office at 301-759-4990.