Hoosac Valley High School presents 'Rent: School Edition' this weekend. See more photos here.
ADAMS, Mass. — Hoosac Valley High School students are mounting an ambitious performance of "Rent: School Edition."
The story of a group of struggling artists in New York City reflects the HIV/AIDS crisis that affected the bohemian lifestyle of the 1980s and '90s. The school edition is a toned-down version of the original Broadway play.
"Rent" has often been seen as a controversial musical. Kate Frissell, stage and choreography director, believes even though the performance is a school edition and is censored, there are still many important lessons the students can learn from the performance.
"Even with everything controversial, it sends a message to be yourself, embrace yourself and be tolerant of other people, and that is something that everyone needs," she said.
The students have made the musical their own, said Jacob Keplinger, the music, lights, and sound director, and is almost completely run by them.
"We have kids running the sound, and the lights," Keplinger said. "It’s a kid's production, and we are just here to guide them and get them to the final product."
The performance pulls students from all age levels; nearly 40 middle school and high school students are involved.
Keplinger said the students have put a lot of work into this performance.
"I had a basic lighting scheme set up and a couple of the kids asked if they could look at the lights in my script," he said. "They added to it and made it better on their own time."
Frissell said there is a high amount of independent student work in this production.
"I have noticed this year that this cast has done a lot of work on their own," she said. "They are running their own vocal rehearsals."
The cast has been working since the beginning of January for three hours a day. The students often practice on their own and hold extra rehearsals.
"Rent: School Edition" has eight lead parts. Travis Ciempa, Krystyna Cochrane, Olivia Melillo, Connor Wotkowicz, Hannah Stansfield, Ryan Bartlett, Meghan Deluca and Tyler Carpenter will headline the performances.
The cast is in the final week of rehearsals and Keplinger has noticed their growing excitement.
"The energy level has continued to grow through every rehearsal, and by opening night, this place will be packed," he said. "The energy level that is going to be in this room will be pretty incredible."
Keplinger said this production is the most involved and technical performance he has ever done at Hoosac Valley.
"This is a rock opera, and it is sung from the beginning to the end," he said. "We realize that this is our most ambitious show to date."
"Rent: School Edition" runs Friday and Saturday, March 14 and 15, at 7 p.m. at the high school.