An Inside Look on Gateway Playhouse’s Production of Rent


Photo by Brianna Coccia

Natalie Storrs is performing as Maureen in RENT at the Gateway Playhouse.

The theatre is a melting pot of eccentric personalities, talents, ideas; the voice of people from all walks of life. The theatre has been a way for the people of society to express their opinions and views on current events that they themselves are either spectators to or directly involved with. Through history, musicals and plays have been engraved into our brains, such as Phantom of The Opera, Romeo and Juliet, The Wiz, Les Misérables, Cabaret and Rent. In each one of these astounding productions, there is either a lesson or an idea to be drawn from it.  

One of these particular productions, Rent, has a highly applicable lesson that reaches a broader audience- beyond just the people who lived through it in the 90’s- about staying true to oneself. If that isn’t enough, Rent also discusses the AIDS epidemic that circulated, infecting and taking lives on a massive scale, as well as the shift in acceptance instead of rejection of the LGBTQ+ community and the arts.  I had the honor of meeting with Natalie Storrs, Gateway Playhouse’s very own Maureen in their production of the musical, Rent. Gateway puts on phenomenal productions from Little Shop of Horrors to Rocky Horror Picture Show, always reeling the audience in with the exuberant theatrical performances every two or so weeks. Natalie is a New York-based professional performing artist who takes to the stage with gumption like you’ve never seen before, embodying whatever role is thrown at her with perfect precision. Not only is Natalie a phenomenal actress, but she is also a bubbly and incredibly down to earth woman with spunk practically radiating from her pores.

Sitting down with Ms. Storrs, she recollected how she was raised in a naïve way, claiming it was “sweet and lovely,” but that her first encounter with the LGBTQ+ world was through the theatre in high school. Being that high school was her first real exposure to the LGBTQ+ community, Natalie believes that it really needs to be out there more for people to learn from. Promoting an understanding of peoples of all walks of life allows for the cultivation of character and identity, taking advantage of our First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expression. Without the ability to express oneself, or the awareness of the varieties of people, you cannot fully develop your own identity as a person. Natalie believes that “exposure to this story is super important for everybody.” She recollects an encounter that shows the gravity of the effects of this show that a couple in the audience had with a few elderly folks who wanted to leave at intermission, saying there was just too much going on for their liking. This couple practically begged them to stay and to let them teach them about this world, by the end the elderly folks were in tears. This is exactly why this production is so important to not only today’s society but the society of the future, it has a way of changing it’s audience’s view on life. This couldn’t have been stated better than when Natalie expressed how “it changes minds and hearts and gives every single person hope and acceptance regarding something about themselves and the world… it leaves you with this positivity and hope in love and people.”

Natalie Storrs says that this one quote perfectly sums up the moral of Rent’s production: “forget regret or life is yours to miss,” As well as this one, “there’s no day but today to do what you want to do with your life, to love the people around you.” This is perfectly displayed through her character Maureen’s experience where she is so concerned about being who she is, doing her work and not changing for anyone -which is exactly why in one of her songs she states, “take me or leave me.” In the end, she figures out that doing this doesn’t make her happy, what makes her happy is the person she falls in love with. All in all, I can whole-heartedly agree with Natalie that “love is the most important thing, no matter how difficult the situation you are going through, love will get you through, and love will move you forward- and the music is bomb”.

Whether you’re a young kid, or a grandparent, Rent is a show that not only livens the heart but the mind and soul of anyone who watches it. It is a risqué-type production, but if you truly watch it with an open mind, you too will be whisked away into the land of theatre, finding yourself posing the question “what can I measure my life by?”