The spectacle that unfolded Wednesday night at the Golden Gate Theatre could have been confused for a Tom Jones concert, had one not known better.
Instead, all the hullabaloo was over the touring production of "Rent," now playing in San Francisco through August 6 and coinciding with the blockbuster production’s 10-year anniversary on Broadway.
And really, the true show might have actually been surprisingly enough, not on the stage, but in the audience, where it becomes apparent that "Rent" has clearly bound itself in the fickle pages of Broadway’s history until, quite possibly, the end of time.
"Rent" is to Generation X what "Hair" is to baby-boomers.
Though there is no way getting around that this "issue" musical is wrought with characters drenched in clichés and obvious conflicts, but Broadway has yet to release a production to succinctly characterize Gen X with such accuracy and validity.
The result has been a devout following on par with the devout followers of the Grateful Dead: and remember, this is musical theater.
Playwright Jonathan Larson raised the wattage on Broadway when he introduced the world to a cast of characters comprised of drug addicts, AIDS patients, homosexuals, drag queens, hackers, activists and artists.
Wednesday night’s audience greeted the return of "Rent" tothe Bay Area with religious fervor, responding to the play’s breakout hits with the kind of applause found at rock concerts.
The touring cast does admirable service in this production, bringing the right mix of energy, rapport and skillful choreography the musical demands. It did seem on opened night that the sound crew needs to tweak the volume a bit to give the show’s large-scaled company numbers the kind of articulation required to understand lyrics more clearly.
Many times belted out verses became muffled by what were presumably decibel levels to loud for the sound system to filter.
This meant that the show’s quieter numbers had greater success in terms of showcasing the company’s vocal talent, such as "Without You," or many of the solos featured from the supporting company members in numbers such as "On the Street."
But honestly, "Rent" has entered a sphere that makes it nearly infallible. You could cast a kindergarten class and the crowds would barely know the difference.
Where: Golden Gate Theatre through Aug. 6, located at 1 Taylor St.
Info: Visit http://www.shnsf.com or call Ticketmaster at (415) 512-7770
Tickets: Prices range between $25 to $68