UK Eurovision hopeful Lucie Jones stars in Rent at Festival Theatre

Billy Cullum (centre) as Mark with the cast of Rent.  Pic: Matt Crockett

Billy Cullum (centre) as Mark with the cast of Rent. Pic: Matt Crockett

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A NEW production of Jonathan Larson’s award-winning musical Rent opens at the Festival Theatre tonight.

Marking the 20th anniversary of the show and starring Lucie Jones who, in May, will represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest, the piece tells the story of a group of young artists struggling in New York City.

Larson’s musical, inspired by Puccini’s opera La Bohème, won four Tony Awards, six Drama Desk Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1996.

With the New York Time’s describing it as an ‘exhilarating, landmark rock opera’, Rent ran on Broadway for 12 years, premiering in the UK at London’s Shaftesbury Theatre in 1998.

Larson’s world is inhabited by a group of bohemian artists who struggle to maintain their friendships and non-conformist ideals in the East Village.

Facing problems head on, they make personal self-discoveries and find what really matters most in life.

The poignancy of the story was heightened when Larson died of an aortic dissection the night before the show’s first off-Broadway performance.

2009 X Factor hopeful Jones plays Maureen Johnson, no stranger to musical theatre having starred as Elle Jones in Legally Blonde and Cosette in Les Misérables, she admits, however, to being excited about bringing the show to the Capital.

She says, “I can’t wait to perform in Edinburgh, home to the Eurovision Song Contest in 1972 and I’ll be sure to visit the Usher Hall when I’m in town with Rent to soak up some of that Eurovision history.”

Director Bruce Guthrie says, “Our aim is to serve the fans of the show who have loved it since its ground-breaking premiere while introducing it to a new generation of fans. The musical is a celebration of life and living in the moment.”

Rent, Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, tonight-Saturday, 7.30pm (2.30pm), £20.50-£29.50, 0131-529 6000