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RENT Returns To The National Theatre For 20th Anniversary | Review

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Last night I took a break from the Disney+ launch day and took my daughter to see RENT at the National Theatre in Washington, DC. The show returns for it’s 20th Anniversary tour on a limited run- and you don’t want to miss this one! Here’s what you need to know about Rent at the National Theatre in DC. 

RENT at the National Theatre in DC

I’m a lover of musical theater, but confess I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like. I was thrilled when the opportunity to attend and review RENT was offered to me by the theater in exchange for a review. 

I checked my teen daughter’s schedule and she was all on board, so off to Washington, DC we went for the opening night at the National Theatre of RENT. 

If this show has been on your shortlist of things to experience for the past 20 years (raises hand- it was on mine!) don’t hesitate to get your tickets now. 

RENT touring cast at the National Theatre in Washington DC

The Company of the RENT 20th Anniversary Tour RENT 20th Anniversary Tour, Credit Amy Boyle 2019.

RENT Returns To The National Theatre For 20th Anniversary

RENT is running from November 12 through Sunday, November 17, 2019. The National Theatre is located at 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in downtown Washington, D.C.

Tickets for the RENT 20th Anniversary tour are on sale. Be sure to grab yours today at

The show was phenomenal and you don’t want to miss this one!

I was blown away by the voices seamlessly blending into one uber-rich melody, with standout performances by the entire cast.

I know I should pick someone to single out, but dang, I just can’t do it. Each one of the principal cast had my full and complete attention when they were on stage. 

RENT at DC National Theatre

Aiyana Smash  RENT 20th Anniversary Tour, Credit Amy Boyle 2019.

RENT Parent Review

I was generally familiar with the storyline and some of the songs (I mean, who doesn’t know Seasons of Love at this point?) but I went into RENT with very little background. 

Thankfully, I did have a heads up to the mature themes and sexual nature of the show, so I wasn’t totally unprepared. And be warned: it definitely has a lot of sex and drug use discussed on stage.  

Can You Take Your Teens To See RENT?

Knowing this, I knew my oldest daughter at 14-year-old would be able to handle and enjoy the show. Since she’s a fan of Dear Evan Hanson and Hamilton, I felt this wouldn’t be too shocking to her. 

That’s probably my biggest tip for parents: do your research on the show before you take a child. I personally think high school and up are mature enough in general. Younger than that pushes the limits of understanding and appropriateness in most cases. 

angel and tom in RENT at the National Theatre in DC

Joshua Tavares, Shafiq Hicks
RENT 20th Anniversary Tour, Credit Amy Boyle 2019.

HIV: Educate Your Teens Before You See RENT

My failure to prepare for the show meant we quickly ran into a bit of a context snag.

About 30 minutes into the show I had to check in with my daughter to see if she understood what was going on.

You see, our teens don’t know what we knew about HIV and the AIDS epidemic when we were kids. 

And while that’s a very good thing (can I get an AMEN!) I realized she probably didn’t know exactly what some of the lines and circumstances meant. We had a quick chat during intermission and a longer one on the car ride home to make sure that bit of history was made clear. 

RENT 20th anniversary tour

The Company of the RENT 20th Anniversary Tour RENT 20th Anniversary Tour, Credit Amy Boyle 2019.

About RENT At The National Theatre

In 1996, an original rock musical by a little-known composer opened on Broadway… and forever changed the landscape of American theatre.

Two decades later, Jonathan Larson’s RENT continues to speak loudly and defiantly to audiences across generations and all over the world. And now, this Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award®-winning masterpiece returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production.

A re-imagining of Puccini’s La Bohème, RENT follows an unforgettable year in the lives of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams without selling out. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters—love.

The show received its world premiere off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop on February 13, 1996 to ecstatic reviews and transferred to Broadway on April 29, 1996. RENT won the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. 

Leading the RENT 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR cast is Cody Jenkins as Mark Cohen, Coleman Cummings as Roger Davis, Aiyana Smash as Mimi Marquez, Shafiq Hicks as Tom Collins, Joshua Tavares as Angel Dumott Schunard, Kelsee Sweigard as Maureen Johnson, Samantha Mbolekwa as Joanne Jefferson, and Juan Luis Espinal as Benjamin Coffin III. The tour will also feature Zare Anguay, Rayla Garske, Lexi Greene, Ysabel Jasa, Caira Asanté Lakota, Stephen Rochet Lopez, Benjamin H. Moore, Carlina Parker, James Schoppe, Jason Tyler Smith, Kevin Stevens and Sam Van Vleet.  

Based on original direction by Michael Greif (Tony and Drama Desk Nominations, RENT), Evan Ensign re-stages the 20th anniversary tour. Original Broadway creatives Marlies Yearby (Choreography), Angela Wendt (Costume Design), and Tim Weil (Music Supervision and Additional Arrangements) are joined by Jonathan Spencer (Lighting Design), Keith Caggiano (Sound Design), MiRi Park (Associate Choreographer), and Matthew E. Maraffi (adapting original scenic design by Paul Clay) to make up the creative team for the tour. Casting for the tour is by Wojcik | Seay Casting.

The RENT 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR is produced by Work Light Productions, whose other touring productions include the 2016 Olivier Award-winning production of Jesus Christ Superstar, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Bandstand, and the upcoming tour of the TONY award-winning musical Ain’t Too Proud.


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