The Court Theatre’s revised Ryman Healthcare 2022 Season will feature a surprise new show as the previously planned RENT (cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19) replaces the Carole King biopic Beautiful as the summer musical.

Postponements and cancellations have become all too prevalent for the Theatre, and the events industry in New Zealand in general, during the past three years due to Covid-19 and its attendant limitations. Over the last three months The Court Theatre has once more been forced to revise its plans, moving several 2022 shows to 2023.

“We decided to take the uncertainty of this year as an opportunity rather than simply a challenge” says Chief Executive Barbara George. Having been forced to cancel RENT from its winter musical slot in 2020, George says the Theatre team took this opportunity to look at RENT again. “We decided to be bold and truly showcase this stunning musical in the summer spotlight it deserves” she says.

RENT follows a group of artists struggling and striving to fulfil their dreams in New York City. Set against a background of poverty and looming gentrification in 1990s New York, RENT is a pop-culture phenomenon, including revered hits “Seasons of Love”, “Take Me or Leave Me” and “La Vie Bohème. At the heart of this rock musical is a story that transcends its time and place – it is a celebration of love, friendship and living life to the fullest, every day.

There was significant work already done in preparation for this much-anticipated show when it was cancelled in 2020. The Court is delighted to announce that creatives Lara Macgregor (Director), Richard Marrett (Musical Director), Mark McEntyre (Set Designer) and Tina Hutchison-Thomas (Costume Designer), who all originally signed on for RENT in 2020, will return for this new season to continue bringing their collective vision to life.

Director Lara Macgregor says that she is “thrilled with The Court Theatre’s decision to bring RENT back to the stage. Surely there’s no better time in our post-Covid history to celebrate actors, creativity and lifelong friendships. What a privilege to carry the torch for Jonathan Larson who, at 36, after three hard years of developing RENT, passed away the night before it saw an audience. He never got to bask in its huge success, it’s 11-year run on Broadway, his Pulitzer Prize or his Tony Award. We have a remarkable opportunity to continue his legacy and bring the unprecedented energy that is RENT to Christchurch.”

Helping bring that energy to life is Musical Director Richard Marrett. “This is an opportunity I never thought we’d have again: to perform RENT, which has become a modern classic, on The Court stage with a cast of extraordinary vocalists and a band of outstanding rock musicians” he says. The live band Marrett directs will be onstage and an integral part of the action.

An energetic, uplifting musical, RENT is a well-deserved multi-award winner and something of a modern musical institution. “We’re looking forward to bringing this energetic show to the stage – it seems perfectly appropriate to bring this life-affirming show to our stage and our community right now” says Artistic Director Dr Alison Walls.

The Ryman Healthcare 2022 Season at The Court Theatre now commences in May with the Court Jesters offering up a Double Shot of Scriptless Weekend on 13 and 14 May. One week later, opening the mainstage shows is the internationally acclaimed thriller The Girl on The Train, directed by Holly Chappell. Chappell’s almost cinematic interpretation of this suspenseful story will surprise and engross even fans of the book or movie.

Next is a change of pace as the eagerly anticipated Potted Potter, itself deferred for the 2021 season, takes the stage to condense all seven Harry Potter books into 70 hilarious minutes.

Rescheduled from its original slot in February 2022 is Alison Quigan and Ross Gumbley’s Kiwi comedy, Flagons and Foxtrots, which promises a nostalgic and humorous feel-good time even for Kiwis who missed the sixties. Another Kiwi favourite saved from the 2021 line-up are The Māori Sidesteps who will bring soulful harmonies, satirical skits and superb song parodies to the mainstage in September.

The Court Youth Company return to the stage with the thought-provoking drama Katzenmusik and, to lighten the mood a little, the legendary Court Jesters will also be back with their improvised comedy shows Scared Scriptless and The Early Early Late Show, the latter offering up regular hilarity for young audiences.

Finishing the season is now, of course RENT, a show which Walls says “has always deserved a place in The Court spotlight. We are so pleased to now be able to offer it the premium summer slot for 2022.”