ETSU’s Patrick Cronin is directing the astounding musical, “Rent” starting Nov. 18-22 at the Bud Frank Theatre in Gilbreath Hall.

The writer of “Rent,” Jonathon Larson based these characters on the characters from “La Boheme the Musical.”

“The starving artist community all got together in Victorian time and they all commiserated, and said, ‘We’re poor, we don’t have any money and we’re going to make everybody know it,’ ” said Dominic Aquilino. “They would go into café’s and literally make everybody uncomfortable. They’d be the ‘dirty bohemians,’ they were the derelicts of society, but they were also the cultural contributing members of society. These guys were basically like well, were trying to be that, but in east village New York City.”

The show was set in the 90’s and was based on young people with dreams trying to make it in a big city.

The entire cast practicing the opening number, "Rent." (MC Kelly/Easttennessean)

The entire cast practicing the opening number, “Rent.” (Photograph by MC Kelly/East Tennessean)

“Some are at risk because of AIDS, some are facing drug addictions and some are in extreme poverty,” said Brian Collins, stage manager for the ETSU division of theatre and dance. “It’s sort of two shows in one, it’s that and it’s a show about love and family, and a show about hope in some ways.”

“Rent” is definitely a show that pushes the envelope, but is truly inspiring.

“I like doing shows that talk about real life and the pain of life and that is ‘Rent,’” Cronin said. “It is a show about poverty, art, aids and living in derelict buildings and hoping to make that one great movie, write that one great play, meet that one great love.”

Those whom have never seen the show are in for a real treat; it requires an open mind and understanding of other people’s real life situations.

“I’m hoping people will come out of this with a little bit more of an open mind,” Collins said.

“This was a risky show to do in East Tennessee, but we wanted to do it because it is dealing with so many of the issues that are still of our generation.”

Performing this show is a great way to point out some of those issues, but in an entertaining way.

According to Cronin, the greatest challenge is getting nice middle class students to feel the energy and the magic of “Rent.”

Cronin lived in New York when it was a dying city, he said the artists struggled to keep the city alive and that is why he is doing it, it is the energy and power that is this musical.

“It is a show about dreams and about how they become real when we make them real,” Cronin said. “Yoda is right: ‘There is no trying: there is do and not do.’ Yoda would be in our production of ‘Rent.’”