Selkirk Secondary presents Rent

A look at the character of Mimi; through the looking glass

Brooke Janzer in costume as Mimi Marquez.

Brooke Janzer in costume as Mimi Marquez.

For the Bulletin

At first glance, Rent seems to be about a really cool group of young adults embracing the bohemian lifestyle in the late 80’s in New York. After reading the cast list and seeing that I got the part of Mimi I was thrilled; I was excited to play such an exuberant character with a distinct and cool personality. I thought of all of the killer songs I was going to be singing and how fun it was going to be to perform in a Selkirk production again! Really, a typical first reaction for a middle class, somewhat naive 16 year old high school student!

Then I started researching the story and my character; watching the movie and other productions over and over again. As part of our prep, Sven Heyde, our director, had us talk about the struggles the characters were going through. We read literature and songs from artists and authors that are referenced in the song La Vie Boheme and other pieces that were relevant to that era.

I then realized that although the characters in Rent are cool, they are far from carefree. They were dealing with some of the biggest social issues of the decade; poverty, drugs, and AIDS. I also realized that beyond the laid-back and confident shell of Mimi was a young girl who was troubled in so many ways and was using a happy-go-lucky attitude to mask it.

At this point, I thought – wow – how am I going to be able to do justice to this character? How am I going to show the audience how vibrant and confident, but at the same time vulnerable and scared, Mimi is?

After rehearsing for several weeks, I was still struggling with this and then for the first time we performed with the orchestra and I got chills. It’s all about the music for me. I was able to step completely into the role and embrace the character of Mimi and the powerful theme of the musical. I am so moved when I’m singing about Mimi’s vulnerabilities (no spoilers :), but I can also feel like I’m on top of the world when Mimi’s on a high (no pun intended 🙂 I may not be able to find parallel’s in Mimi’s life and mine, but through the music and lyrics, I can truly feel and portray the depths of her character. And let me tell you, it’s a ride!!

I am so excited to have the opportunity to portray Mimi, to work with Mr. Heyde and our crew of talented actors, and to be able to sing along with a wonderful orchestra. I am most excited to have an amazing audience enjoy the end result of the hard work that went into this high school production of Rent!

Rent runs April 6 – 9 at Mckim Theatre, with tickets on sale now at Selkirk School and Snowdrift Café in Kimberley and Lotus Books in Cranbrook. It is rated PG13 and may not be appropriate for some audiences.