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Peoria Players Theatre
June 3 - 5 & 9 - 12

Peoria Players is proud to present the ground-breaking musical Rent this June. Directed by Deric Tucker Kimler, this Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning rock opera blasted Broadway in 1996 with unbelievable force. With music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, Rent is loosely based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in New York City’s East Village in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. The Broadway production boasted a 12-year run of over 5,000 performances, and in 2005 it was made into a motion picture.

Peoria Players’ production stars some of this area’s finest talent. Matt Edwards plays the part of Roger, a struggling musician who has found out he is HIV-positive. Moody and depressed, his world changes when he meets dancer Mimi Marquez. Matt is no stranger to this role, having previously played Roger in a production in Georgia. Pauline Parkhurst, a Western Illinois theater major, is Mimi. Pauline is a hard-working individual who is bound for a fruitful career!

Mark Cohen, played by Bloomington resident and performer Austin Travis, is an aspiring filmmaker who decides on Christmas Eve of 1989 to "shoot without a script" and create a documentary of the 1989-1990 year, which turns into Rent. Mark is the ex-roommate and ex-boyfriend of Maureen Johnson, who dumped him for a lawyer named Joanne. The roles of Maureen and Joanne are played by Bree Carroll and Ayana Pankey, respectively. Ayana is a Peoria theater staple and also had the chance to play Joanne in a previous production 7 years ago. Bree, also a renowned performer, is back in Peoria, having lived in Chicago until just recently.

Mark, Mimi and Roger’s landlord, Benny, has married into a wealthy family and is considered by the others to be a “yuppie sell-out.” Benny is played by Springfield resident Daniel Maughan. Daniel says he couldn't miss this opportunity to be in his dream show.

Jay R de Leon plays the part of Angel for the third time. He is a Chicago resident who recently graduated from Millikin University in the medical field. Angel might be thought of as one of the more controversial roles in the show. Some fans believe her to be a transgender woman, and some believe her to be a drag queen. Angel's presence in the show is generally comical, as well as heartwarming, but it can be very touching and sentimental. Angel soon falls for Collins, who takes her in after being beaten and left on the street. There is no one more perfect to play the caring part of Collins than Darren Jackson-Adams. With a heart of gold, Darren is heavily involved with local events (most recently, he choreographed our production of Hairspray), and he loves to be a communal person.

From our director, Deric Tucker Kimler -- “I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to direct such a prodigious musical. Although Rent takes place 26 years ago, you will see many parallel issues throughout the show that still affect society today. The most highlighted version of that being our view of HIV/AIDS. HIV is still highly misunderstood as a ‘choice’ disease due to preventative measures, but you wouldn’t blame someone with type 2 diabetes for the simple fact that it can be prevented. Instead of ignoring the ever growing population of HIV infections, we can pull our recourses together and fight to end HIV, which causes AIDS. More importantly, I’m happy that we can do this at Peoria Players Theatre, a not-for-profit that understands that it takes a community to make a healthier safer environment to live and raise a family. Peoria Players is working with Central Illinois Friends during this show to make sure that we can continue to educate and take measures to make Peoria stronger.”
Rent is a show that Peoria Players has been longing to present. The importance of the subject matter and the beauty of the score blend into a story that will definitely tug at the heart strings. With memorable tunes, such as “Seasons of Love,” “I’ll Cover You,” “Take Me or Leave Me,” “Without You” and “Out Tonight,” Rent remains a favorite among most theatre crowds.

Performances at Peoria Players include June 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11 at 7:30 pm and June 5 and 12 at 2:00. Tickets are $19 for adults and $12 for patrons 20 and younger. Call 688-4473 or visit us online at

Posted on May 24, 2016