Indiana State University Newsroom

Crossroads Rep to present first-ever staging of 'Rent' in Terre Haute

July 1, 2015

Loud, big and with a lot of new talent coming in to strut their stuff - that's how director Chris Berchild describes the upcoming performances of the beloved musical "Rent," which will open for the first time in Terre Haute on July 10. Opening night is sold out but additional performances are scheduled throughout the month.

Set in 1989, the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical by Jonathan Larson follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York's Lower East Side, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

"This is a great musical with great music - such a moving and beautiful story," said Berchild, who is also artistic director of Crossroads Repertory Theatre.

Crossroads has assembled an "absolutely fantastic cast" including Chicago and Cincinnati actors, Indiana State University theater alumni and community members.

"It's a really exciting, eclectic regional mix," Berchild said. "Very few of these actors have worked together before. I'm really excited to bring them all together in one room and see the energy that comes out."

For avid fans of the musical, it may be surprising to realize it's been 20 years since it first opened on Broadway.

"It is a historical musical by now - it's located in a specific time and place, during specific social and political tones," he said. "That's kind of one of the weird things. I have a couple of actors in this musical who were barely alive in the '90s. For them, it's the same way I look at the '60s. For me, I still think ‘Rent' opened yesterday.

The cast and crew's challenge, in many ways, is finding a balance of honoring previous productions while staying true to their own artistic vision.

"Rent is a beloved musical, and that's always a tough thing to work with. You have people who say, ‘Are you going to have Mark's sweater?' These things happen with ‘Les Mis' and ‘Phantom' - if you don't do it just exactly the way they did it on Broadway or whatever, it can be anywhere from disconcerting to disappointing," Berchild said.

In the original production of this free-form musical, Berchild says, the set was barely anything more than some scaffolding and a few tables and therefore invites some level of interpretation.

"How do you take something that is so locked into a moment - both as a performance and as a historical moment - and rework it? It does take a very careful vision of respecting the original and the tradition and also realizing this is a new cast, this is a new design team, I've never directed ‘Rent' before," Berchild said. "While we feel we need to respect the tradition, we also eed to make it ours. This needs to be Crossroads' ‘Rent' and not just I-took-video-of-when-‘Rent'-was-on-Broadway and recreated it."

The nuanced story is told through a continuously shifting point of view - through artists' points of view, no less.

"No matter whose story you're interested in or whose story you trust, you're being told that story through an artistic temperament," Berchild said. "The uber-narrator of the piece, Mark, is a filmmaker. His life is about observing and recording and capturing these moments in time and revisiting them and replaying them. I think that's really what this piece is about - looking at these moments in time."

Whether you're a fan of "Rent," musicals in general or rock musicals, Berchild encourages audience members to buy their tickets early, as they're expecting to sell out each show.

"We love doing musicals and giving that opportunity to see some of these musical favorites, but ‘Rent' has never been produced in Terre Haute," Berchild said. "We want to take this new story that's based on an old story and create an exciting musical experience for our audience.

"Rent" runs at 7:30 p.m. July 10, 11, 17, 21 and 25 and 4 p.m. July 12 and 26 in Indiana State's New Theater, 540 N. 7th St. Season tickets are available for $52 each, and single-production tickets are $20 for general admission.

To buy tickets or donate to Crossroads Repertory Theatre, go to or call the box office at 812-237-3333.

Photo: - Andrew Behling plays Mark and Dustin LaFleur portrays Roger in the Crossroads Repertory Theater production of "Rent." (ISU/Angelique Bokamba)

Photo: - Ashley Dillard and Rayanna Bibbs rehearse a scene from the Crossroads Repertory Theater production of "Rent." (ISU/Angelique Bokamba)

Photo: - Molly LeCaptain and Dustin LaFlelur are among the performers in the cast of Crossroads Repertory Theater's production of "Rent." (ISU/Angelique Bokamba)

Contact: David Valdez, instructor, department of theater at Indiana State University, or 812-237-3337

Writer: Libby Roerig, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or