|Lansdale’s Steve Pacek plays the ‘Rent’|
|Wednesday, 10 November 2010 00:00 ||
Go ouuuuuut tonight and make your way to Drexel University, where 11th Hour Theatre Company is collaborating with Mandell Professionals in Residence Project to bring you its largest production ever: "Rent," at Mandell Theater.
"Rent," a musical written by Jonathan Larson, follows eight friends in New York City over the span of one year as they deal with love and the AIDS epidemic. The show has won numerous awards, including a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award.
Steve Pacek, a Lansdale native and co-founder of 11th Hour who is playing the filmmaker Mark, in this production, says this is "by far the largest theater 11th Hour has used; people will be surprised by the scale" of the project.
The size of the production is possible because of the collaboration with Mandell Professionals in Residence. This program brings a professional company to campus and allows performing arts students from Drexel University to act with the pros or help with backstage production.
The cast of this show includes eight Drexel students. Pacek said it is "cool" to work with them.
The role of Mark in "Rent" is a huge transition from Pacek's last role, in which he played one of the contestants in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." That fun play is about as different from "Rent," where the threat of death constantly hangs over the characters, as possible.
"It's going from cartoon to ultra-reality," says Pacek.
Luckily, there was plenty to inspire Pacek as he made the switch.
When he was in college, Pacek and his friends drove to New York City and saw one of the last performances of "Rent" put on by members of the original cast on Broadway. That performance was a big influence on Pacek in his rendition of his role.
Pacek prepares for a new role by researching people in the real world who are in situations similar to the character he will be portraying on stage. He likes to get inside their thoughts and emotions.Pacek found a similarity between himself and his character. "He is a storyteller, like myself." Mark tells his stories through what he films, while Pacek shares his stories while acting onstage.
Playing such a pivotal character has its challenges.
"He's onstage a lot," says Pacek. The numerous musical numbers Mark takes part in make the role physically difficult.
Since Mark is a filmmaker, Pacek's main prop is a camera that he uses throughout the show. It was tricky to learn to use the camera convincingly, he says. Keeping the energy up as the script bobs between singing and speaking is also tough.
Luckily Pacek is well up to these challenges. He is a triple-Barrymore nominee this year. The Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre celebrate innovation and excellence in Greater Philadelphia theatre.
11th Hour sets its production of "Rent" apart from other renditions of the show with its set. In most productions of "Rent," the set is an artistic interpretation of the places in the play. This stage, however, is aimed more at realism than the abstract.
"'Rent' changed musical theater in America," says Pacek. "It opened new doors to what can happen onstage." Pacek hopes that the audience members who come to see this production of "Rent" will get excited about what musical theater can be.
He also thinks viewers are going to benefit from the message of the play: "No Day But Today." The past is always with us, but not here now, says Pacek. We can spend our time worrying about the future, but it does no good. The characters in "Rent" are facing death and loss, but they don't let this sadness and fear swallow them. Pacek highlights the lesson we can learn from this, saying we need to "live the moment we know we have."
Article From: Montgomery Media