Broadway Show, Rent, Comes to Ocean Springs

The Broadway show, Rent, will be performed in Ocean Springs at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center. Shows are Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., with the same schedule next weekend. Rent first opened in 1996 and eventually became one of the top ten longest running Broadway productions of all time.

Now 19 years after its premier, Rent continues spreading the message of love, acceptance, and living under the shadow of AIDS and the show is still singing and dancing its way into the hearts of theatre lovers on the Gulf Coast. With its focus on homosexuality and the AIDS epidemic, many gay men and women remember the first time they saw it vividly. Jeff White, Executive Director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Rainbow Center, says, "I cried nonstop. It was very hard and emotional because I’ve lost friends to that and I’ve seen what it can do."

According to the Human Rights Campaign, Mississippi has the tenth highest AIDS infection rate in the country, and Jackson, Mississippi has the fourth highest rate of all cities in the nation. White says Rent helps educate the public on common misconceptions about HIV, including the idea that it’s a disease that only affects the gay community. White also says, "It gives people who aren’t gay a false sense of security because it doesn’t discriminate. It’s not just something that happens to us or our community."

William Shakespeare once said that all the world’s a stage, and the director of this show hopes that audiences will hear the messages being acted out on this stage Friday night and over the next two weeks. Cliff Thompson, Director of Rent, says, "At its core, this show is about acceptance. It involves a motley crew of main characters from all different walks of life, sexual orientations, races, cultures, and through them we see the idea that love brings people together."

The cast of the show didn’t know each other at first, but quickly became as close as family, just like the characters in the show. Thompson also says, "The idea of the found family, the group that isn’t your genetic family, and this cast has been a great representation of that. They gelled almost immediately." White closes, "These people didn’t know each other, but now they’re family. That’s how they’ve gotten through and it’s about survival and it’s so much like what our community goes through on a daily basis."

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Mississippi Gulf Coast Rainbow Center.

Categories: Local News, News

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