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A talented cast and crew drew a full house during performances of Jonathan Larson’s “Rent School Edition,” held in the Wantagh High School auditorium on Nov. 21-23. Under the direction of Heather Naughton, choreographers Ellie Breen and Kim Davis and vocal director James E. Brown, the cast moved the audience with the two-act musical with original lyrics by Larson. The production was also presented in loving memory of alumnus John Michael Martin (1985-2019).   

Set in New York City’s East Village, “Rent School Edition” follows the lives of impoverished young artists and musicians, who struggle to survive and create in the city’s Lower East Side. The physical and emotional complications of HIV/AIDS pervade the lives of Roger (John Sileo), Mimi (Kyra Orgass), Tom (Aidan Schroh) and Angel (Chris Murale). Performance artist Maureen (Katriana Koppe) deals with her chronic infidelity through performance art, while her partner Joanne (Ellie Breen) wonders if their relationship is salvageable. Benjamin (James Degnan) has given up his Bohemian living ideals to make a larger income and is on the outs with all of his friends. Mark (Gabe Cruz), an aspiring filmmaker, continuously feels like an outsider. Each diverse and vibrant  character learns to negotiate their dreams and passions that complicate their lives and set the stage for clarity in this unforgettable musical.

In addition to the stellar on-stage talent, the success of the production is also due to the set design by Stagelight Academy Productions, business manager Courtney Prestianni, and lighting designers Nick Campano and Holly Romero.