'Rent' Performances Feel 'Like Home' for Director Amy Fritsche

Kent State University's School of Theater and Dance is continuing its 2023-2024 season with 'Rent'

“525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?” These lyrics will fill the E. Turner Stump Theatre this weekend as the run of “Rent” finishes up on Sun, Feb. 25.  

Amy Fritche Headshot

Amy Fritsche, associate professor of acting and musical theater and director of “Rent” for Kent State, walked alongside students performing in the show from start to finish to ensure their first performance of the Spring semester was a hit.  

For Fritsche and the School of Theater and Dance, choosing the pieces they will perform starts with the students, to verify the pieces they choose will fulfill the requirements the students need.  

“We have a couple different ways that we go about it,” Fritsche said. “We go and see what the needs of the undergrad student body are, and we also look at what are the needs of the graduate student body.”

“Rent” is a musical set in the East Village of New York City in the early 1990s and follows a group of friends for a year as they live their lives and navigate the AIDS epidemic. The musical has won the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  

For Fritsche, “Rent” holds a special place in her heart as the musical inspired her to take a left turn in her life and pursue an education in musical theater. Fritsche lived in New York in the ‘90s and could relate a lot to the musical when she first saw it.  

“The point of view of the individuals was something that really sparked my imagination, and it felt a little like home,” Fritsche said.  

To prepare students for the show, Fritsche had the play’s dramaturg – someone who provides the cast with knowledge, research and interpretations about the work they are performing – dig up research on what the times were like in the ‘90s. She also brought in Steven Anderson, former artistic director of CATCO Theater, to talk with students.  

“Steven Anderson came in over Zoom and talked to the students about what it was like to be a gay man in the middle of the AIDS epidemic,” Fritsche said. “And how he survived it and the friends who died, so that they could understand through someone who lived it, what it means to have gone through that era. That was incredibly important.”  

Student Performing

The preparation time for the musical was short. Fritsche only had a few rehearsals with students before Christmas break and then only a month to rehearse and prepare before opening day, Feb. 16.  

“We had a month to put this show together. And everybody that I cast stepped up, was amazing, professional, did their work and were incredible to work with,” Fritsche said.  

Other preparations for the show included explaining concepts and things from the period that students weren’t familiar with.  

“I had to explain the difference between a hot plate and an answering machine to a student. I had to explain the fact that you could actually, back in the day, call a payphone,” Fritsche said. “There were just the little things of the time period that the students of today’s generation just don't know.”  

Student Performing

As Fritsche and her performers prepare for their last weekend of performances, she hopes that they will be able to translate one of the play’s main points, living every day to the fullest, to the audience.  

"I want the audience to leave with a sense of community, a sense of love and an understanding that we cannot take anything for granted,” Fritsche said.

Buy tickets for "Rent."

Get more information about the show.

POSTED: Thursday, February 22, 2024 10:53 AM
Updated: Friday, February 23, 2024 11:29 AM
Tanner Poe, Flash Communications
Bob Christy