FEATURE: Dare To Defy’s “Rent” Still Relevant

10342425_10152235436188049_1314033248343455538_nIn just a few weeks, brand new theatre company Dare to Defy Productions will produce RENT at the Victoria Theatre in downtown Dayton.  Tickets are available here for 9/5 at 8PM and 9/6 at 2 PM and 8 PM.  This giant venue is going to be home to some even bigger voices and I can’t wait to see the show.  Some of the cast took some time out of their busy schedules to answer some questions:

Paige Dobkins, you’re playing Maureen.  I know you’ve wanted to play her for a very long time.  What draws you to her?

Paige Dobkins (“Maureen”): Maureen’s sense of abandon is what I’m most excited about.. I try to be a very put together, organized “Joanne” type in life.. So getting to play my , not so typical, side will be fun to experiment living in for awhile.  RENT is a dream show… It’s the first musical theatre show I saw and what made me fall in love with this form of art to begin with. So being able to take part in the show with such a rich artistic community makes me feel very blessed.

Isaac I. Tobler is "Collins"
Isaac I. Tobler is “Collins”

One of my favorite characters in the show is “Collins.”

Isaac I. Tobler (“Collins”): Collins to me is an such an inspiring character. He seems to have lost everything but then finds it all back again with “Angel” only for her to be taken away from him, too. I’m not sure how he could still smile . . .. but he does!  That sense of strength is so admirable of his character. I want to be able to embody that throughout the show. We all go through struggles, but it’s what you do afterwards that defines you . . .Not the struggle itself . . .

Lisa Glover (“Mimi”): To me that is apart of the beauty of Rent, these characters are people that would normally be judged and condemned. This show however, is an eye opener as you feel yourselves relating and even admiring these characters, flaws and all.

There’s certainly a lot of loss for most of the characters in this show.

Lisa Glover (“Mimi”): What I find interesting/inspiring about “Mimi” is that through everything that she has ben through in her life, being homeless, contracting AIDS, and being an addict, she still has such a beautiful spirt. “The pain will ease if i can learn, there is no future, there is no past. I live this moment as my last”. I admire that regardless of the bad hand life has given her she still believes in love. That is a quality that I myself wish that I had.

Paige Dobkins and Shawn Storms as “Maureen” and “Joanne”

Shawn Storms (“Joanne”): I’ve felt the pain of heartbreak, sorrow at the lost of someone very dear to me, and the joys that my close friendships have brought me. I’m more grounded in some ways, unsettled in others. This is obviously going to affect the way I see Joanne. I am looking forward to giving life to this character once more and seeing how she’s grown in the four years since I played her last.

You’ve played her before?

Yes!  This character and this show will be the only one that I will have had the opportunity to explore twice. The first time was at the end of my senior year of college. I had the chance to work with several of my year mates (including director JJ Parkey as Mark). It was cathartic and empowering to end that chapter of my life with that show and that wonderful group of people.  Now it’s several years later and I have been given the chance to explore this character that meant so much to me, this time under the direction of JJ Parkey. I am a much different person than I was then. I’ve grown.

I would think a show like this causes a lot of personal reflection and growth.

Lisa Glover (“Mimi”): When I was younger, I would always get discouraged because being half Puerto Rican and half African American in theater, there were never many roles that would fit my look. RENT was the first show that restored my faith in that no matter what shape, size or color, there is a show for you! Rent showed me that theater was not all one note, and for the first time I saw something real. Im so blessed to be apart of the show that honestly changed my life.  Playing “Mimi” is a dream come true.

It’s easy to write a show like “RENT” off for being out of touch, given the advances in medical technology specifically in the treatment of HIV and AIDS.  Is it still relevant? 

Shawn Storms (“Joanne”): I have been a RENThead since the show came out. I bought the cast album, saw the 1st national tour perform twice. I loved it. Over the years, I have to admit, I’ve see it become stale. A period piece, frozen and cookiecutter. I got bored with it to be honest with you. Then I had the chance to BE in it and I fell in love again. I know that our audience will find that same passion I feel for these characters and this story again. This is a fresh take on a well known musical. JJ is full of life and energy and he is breathing that love of this material into each of his actors. I know the audience is going to see this show with new eyes.

Paige Dobkins (“Maureen”): I think that RENT is a timeless show and the message is still very important to today’s audience. As our director J.J. Parkey mentioned in his directors interview, we live in an age where it is very easy to disconnect from the world around us. RENT is very much so about a sense of community.. And finding your strength in loved ones around you during difficult times as opposed to turning away. This (and many more messages found in the story ) is something everyone today needs to hear and be inspired by.

Bobby Mitchum (“Mark”): The AIDS epidemic is a big part of RENT, and a big part of what made the show such a movement. It brought the fear of dying and LIVING to the audiences attention. While the epidemic is progressively becoming more manageable, that fear still lives in the heart of people. What RENT has to offer a modern audience is how to use that fear to finally feel like you’re living. It helps us embrace those moments that make us feel like we are something important to someone else, no matter how fleeting they may be. Mark says, “How do you document real life, when real life’s getting more like fiction each day?” My goal is to show the audience that you don’t. Real life comes from being a part of it. Mark will come more alive when the camera isn’t glued to his hands and he stops trying to capture “THE moment.” That’s when you will see he’s no longer scared of LIVING.


DARE TO DEFY PRODUCTIONS presents “RENT” on 9/5 and 9/6 at the Victoria Theatre in Dayton, Ohio

Director: JJ Parkey
Music Director: Ian Benjamin
Choregography: Edward Carignan

Mark – Bobby Mitchum
Roger – Mark Beyer
Maureen – Paige Dobkins
Mimi – Lisa Glover
Joanne – Shawn Storms
Tom Collins – Isaac I. Tobler
Angel – Mike Embree
Benny – Mathys Herbert
Chorus: Jamal Caan, Marcus Bedinger, TC Schrier, Zach King, Haylee Dobkins, Mackensie Vonderbrink, Danielle Kubasky

Performances are 9/5 at 8 PM and 9/6 at 2PM and 8PM at the Victoria Theatre in Dayton, Ohio.  Tickets and more information are available here.


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