Created in 2014, Carpe Diem Emmie is a Midlands based Lifestyle, Theatre and Travel blog. Ran by Emmie, a 28 year old woman based in rural Leicestershire.

In the day Emmie works in a primary school where she is passionate about inclusion and mental health. In the evening she escapes to the cultural world.

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In The Rehearsal Room with Christchurch Theatre Club for RENT.

Market Pl, Loughborough LE11 3EB, UK
In the hall at Castle Rock High School, Coalville is a rehearsal for Christchurch Theatre Club's production of RENT. RENT is a fantastic musical based around a group of New York city artists dealing with the HIV/AIDS crisis in the late '80s and it reflects on falling in love, finding your voice and living for today. It opened in Broadway in 1994 and became a winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The musical was written by Jonathan Larson, who tragically died the night before Rent's Off-Broadway premiere, however, it's the success of this musical that makes it an absolute must watch for every theatre-goer. It's personally my favourite musical of all time! 

The theatre company CTC was formed back in the '70s and they put on two productions per year. They are a company who have had the brilliant opportunity to obtain licences for brand new musicals, direct from London's West End. Within the last ten years alone, eleven of the twenty musicals CTC has performed have been brand new releases to the amateur theatre circuit. 

I had the amazing opportunity to pop into their rehearsal room to find out more about the company, talk to some of the principal cast and see them in action. At the time they were blocking out the musical number La Vie Bohème, which is undoubtedly one of the big numbers within the musical. 

The song is a celebration of bohemianism, especially the type that is present in the 1980s. La Vie Bohème lists many ideas, tends and other symbols of bohemianism culture. There's also a nod to those people who inspire them too. Watching Director and Choreographer Michael Gamble create the movement for this piece was interesting stuff! He has definitely incorporated sharp and structured choreography that in time will make the number one of the standouts of the production I am sure. What was so great about watching them work through new choreography was their enjoyment in learning something new and enjoying one another's company in doing so. 

On their break from the quick pace of the number I caught up with principal cast members Kristian Cunningham (Angel), Craig Butterworth (Collins), Holly Easter (Maureen) and Lucy Maden (Mimi) to dive into more of the world of RENT and what it takes to create such a phenomenon in musicals. 

'Angel is a Drag Queen, she's fabulous, she's a bit carefree and warmhearted' says new CTC member Kristian Cunningham, 'Although her story is emotional I don't want to play that. In the first half I want the audience to love me otherwise I Will Cover You will fail. I know when I have done the show before, I choreographed it before, you just have to fall in love with that person and because the rest of the cast are so emotionally connected to it as well'. 

'I think that Angel's character brings a bit of hope to the dynamic' says Craig Butterworth and although the plot is extremely hard-hitting it's Angel's character who ties all of the friends into the story. 

'Mimi is an addict' explains Lucy Maden who takes on the role. Lucy has been with CTC for the longest time out of the principals, performing in their shows since she was 11, therefore she's no stranger to taking on a variety of roles but Mimi is definitely different from the rest. 'I think she is putting on a persona, she has had a very tough upbringing and she's dying but she puts on this really strong and confident character. Then she falls in love with a guy and in time they realise they have the same baggage.' 
'Mimi and Angel's character are definitely living for today in RENT' - Lucy Maden. 
Craig Butterworth plays Collins. His character is a former roommate of Maureen, Roger, Mark and Benny. He also plays Angel's love interest. 'I'm the anarchist part of the whole deal. He's more of a grounded character' and you definitely see him stand out more when Angel dies. 

Holly Easter takes on the role of Maureen 'I remember reading somewhere where they described her as an outrageous bisexual which is probably right. I think she's the most selfish person in the group. Although she loves her friends I think she likes to do things for herself.'

'We've really got to become a family, in order for the audience to get us' says Lucy. 

'RENT is always portrayed as such a depressing story but really the only people who have that is Mimi and Roger. It's why our stories have to be uplifting despite what's going on behind the scenes' says Kristian.  'We want people to come and see the show because people have a perception that it's about drugs and AIDS, but no actually it's not' says Lucy. 

'People sing about living for today and you think damn right!' - Kristain
RENT has been produced a lot of times, more recently with the Rent Live which was broadcast in January 2019. The cast of CTC's production has been 'encouraged to play with it' says Craig and make it their own. 'I don't think it really matters if you use something someone else has done or make it your own, you need to make it real' explains Lucy. 

'I used to watch the film when I was younger all of the time and thought it was the best thing. I mean Idina Menzel is such another level. I just love how she makes things so weird but she's really sexy. It's difficult because I need to be comfortable with whatever I'm doing but still do some of the things Maureen's character does' says Holly.

'It isn't a typical CTC production, it's not the style we are known for. We are the Copacabana's, the big flamboyant so this is something that's really indulgence for us. It's one for us as performers. We've done crowd pleasers and to sell tickets but it's one that's for us, it's for the membership. So just come and see it - see how we perform and we can convert you into a RENT head!' 

Christchurch Theatre Club are performing RENT between 30 April - 4 May 2019. You can book your tickets here.


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