Love and art in the shadow of tragedy

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Talented teenagers from across north Northumberland are hoping to wow the audience as they take on a tale of love and ambition.

This month, at Alnwick Playhouse, the senior group of the Youth Theatre will be performing the popular musical Rent over three nights from Wednesday, July 11, to Friday, July 13.

Based loosely on Puccini’s opera La Boheme, it follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and continue their art in New York’s Lower East Side.

But it comes at a time when the area, and city, is under the shadow of the HIV/Aids outbreak.

The physical and emotional complications of the disease pervade the lives of eight young bohemians.

Maureen deals with her infidelity through performance art while her partner, Joanne, wonders if their relationship is worth bothering with.

Benny has sold out his, and his friends’, ideals in exchange for a steady income and is no longer close with his former friends.

Mark, an aspiring filmmaker, feels like an outsider to life in general.

How these young wannabees negotiate their dreams, loves and conflicts provides the narrative thread to this groundbreaking musical.

It is a story celebrating love, ambition, fidelity and the struggle to survive in a modern, unpredictable and haphazard world.

Andrew Fletcher, playing Mark Cohen in the production, said: “Rent deals with many modern-day situations and scenarios which I believe an audience can sympathise with.

“It follows the lives of eight characters, all different in their morals and opinions.

“Here at Youth Theatre, I believe that we’ve been able to recreate the sentimental values associated with the show and I am very much excited to be a part of it.

“It’s an honour and privilege to be involved in such a great story and I’m sure audiences will enjoy it too.”

Becca Gray, playing Maureen, added: “Youth Theatre is a brilliant thing to be a part of.

“I’ve been there since the beginning and it’s like a second family to me.

“The team is great and the cast always has a lot of fun putting shows together.”