Rent – An Interview




Rent is more then a musical. It’s an experience. Written in the early 90’s by Jonathan Larson, who tragically died the night before his masterpiece went on stage.

A modern revamp of Puccini’s La Bohème where Paris becomes New York, Painters become filmmakers and TB becomes Aids, Rent is one of the biggest cult stage shows of all time. When DCU drama society put on their own production of the “rock opera” it garnered such rave reviews that they were offered a slot in the Olympia in June. I spoke to Producer Bob O’Mhurcu, on their productions surprise success, and what Rent means to him.


 The production in DCU surprised a lot of people with its professionalism and talent.  Was its success expected or was it a fluke?

 I’m not sure I like the term fluke. We put a lot of work into the production, and we knew the level of talent we were working with was huge, however I don’t think anyone expected to be offered a slot in the Olympia. The Association of Irish Musical Societies (AIMS) stated that our production was worthy of the West End, which was amazing to hear.


 What were the steps in bringing it from the Helix to the Olympia?

 The credit for that has to go to the Director John Donnelly, who is highly respected in AIMS, winning their best director award 5 times. He has contacts with the Olympia and pitched the play to them, the decision was made very quickly and we were offered the slot in June.


What makes this production somewhat special is that all the cast are full time students. Has this ever happened before, where a student production has lead to a national venue?

 To my knowledge no, and I’ve been involved in student drama for five years.  It’s a very exciting time for DCU drama soc, as you can imagine.


 Do you yourself have a relationship with the play? A history parce que?

 I lived in New York for four years, and saw rent on Broadway twice. Rent for a lot of people is a way of life “Rentheads” would hang around Nederlander theatre on 40th street in New York, and to this day there is graffiti on its walls saying, “This play changed my life”. Rent had that cultural impact as it touched people.  The play focuses on the lives of 8 individuals who collectively suffer from poverty, aids or drug abuse. There are 3 couples within the group, one straight couple, one lesbian couple and a gay one. The story revolves around a year in the lives of these people. The characters are so richly developed and likable that everyone can relate to at least one of them.

So which character do you relate to most?

 I relate to Mark the most, he is the filmmaker who records the story, you might even call him the narrator-The outsider looking in.


Although Rent has been preformed in Ireland before, a lot of people would only know about it through the luke warm ’05 film adaptation. How different is the stage version?

 I don’t know anybody who preferred the film to the play. Rent was made for stage and something major got lost when it was adapted for the big screen. For one thing the film left out some major songs such as Christmas Bells: A six minute long song with a dozen vocal lines harmonizing across each other. It needs to be seen live to be fully appreciated.

Another song that was (sinfully) left out of the film is Contract. A highly sexually explicit song that gives weight to Angel’s character, but I can’t reveal what its about…it’s a big spoiler for people who haven’t seen it yet.


Rent deals with Aids, Poverty and Drug abuse, and when it was released it struck cords with the youth who lived with these things in everyday life. Has it dated somewhat?

 No, it’s not at all dated. The poverty and drug elements are still very prevalent in today’s society. The Aids element has perhaps quieted in the past 15/20 years as people have become very relaxed about aids. I know medication has improved tenfold and it is possible to live a comparatively healthy life- it’s not the guaranteed death sentence it was in the 80s. At the same time, Aids does kill, and Rent has always had that sense of meaning with sufferers of Aids. It is a very emotional show and its unlikely there will be a dry eye in the house at its climax.


And why should people go to see Rent?

 It’s an experience that needs to be seen live, its emotional, funny, profound and I wouldn’t feel hesitant to even say unmissable. 



See Rent in The Olympia Theatre

June 15th-20th


2 Responses to “Rent – An Interview”

  1. Sinéad McDonald Says:

    Paul its fabulous!Thank you so much!x

  2. Cian Ginty » DCU Drama Socity’s version of Rent at the Olympia Says:

    […] media and bloggers. Here’s links to reviews and other coverage: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and […]

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