EDWARDS — Vail Performing Arts Academy is expanding its summer musical theater options this year. Founded 18 years ago, VPAA has always offered a major musical program for local students that is performed at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in August.
This summer, VPAA will offer the popular and poignant musical “Rent School Edition,” which will be exclusively cast with VPAA division two teens ages 13 to 18. VPAA will also offer “Mulan Jr.” for students ages 8 to 12, plus any division two student who prefers to do “Mulan Jr.”
PERFORMING AN EDGY MUSICAL
This teen adaptation of “Rent” has been carefully done to retain the dramatic intent of the groundbreaking rock musical, and consists of minimal changes to make it possible for many schools to perform this piece.
This story of love and survival, however, does addresses the mature themes of drug use, homosexuality and HIV/AIDS. All characters remain true to the original Broadway show and some view the show as PG-13 while others view it as R-rated, depending on their perspective.
So why would a performing arts program for youth pick a musical that may not be appropriate for all ages?
‘AN EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE’
“The issues presented in Rent are still very real today,” said executive producer Annah Scully.” We at VPAA are excited to offer ‘Rent School Edition’ for our teen actors because we intend to make this an educational experience not only for the cast, but also their families and perhaps the audiences. We have contacted the Red Ribbon Project and will work with our VPAA staff school counselor to make this production a learning tool, as well as a wonderful performance experience. We encourage everyone who wishes to participate to view the movie version to clear up any questions and concerns.”
Set in the East Village of New York City, “Rent” is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for drama, it has become a pop cultural phenomenon with songs that rock and a story that resonates with audiences of all ages.
Based loosely on Puccini’s La Boheme, “Rent School Edition” follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create on New York’s Lower East Side under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.
The physical and emotional complications of the disease pervade the lives of the characters. How these young bohemians negotiate their dreams, loves and conflicts provides the narrative thread to this groundbreaking musical.
Enrollment for VPAA summer musicals has begun and auditions for both “Rent School Edition” and “Mulan Jr.” will be held May 4 at the Eagle-Vail Pavilion. Rehearsals will begin July 14 at Battle Mountain High School, with performances scheduled for Aug. 8-10 at the Vilar Performing Arts Center.