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RENT, The Musical, UK

J&C Joel was approached by the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester, to build, paint and deliver the full scenic package for RENT the Musical. 

Hope Mill is a converted mill building on the outskirts of central Manchester, which is now an intimate 150 seat theatre. The space has many obstacles, with old pipework and ducting to consider and minimal load-in space. 

This ambitious revival of the smash-hit musical by Jonathan Larson takes place in a static but transformable stage set, with the design based on a derelict New York city red brick apartment. Designed by David Woodhead, the stage set contains a nine-piece enclosing wall structure with a six panelled window upstage, an integrated Voile (VOI010) drape to mask off the ‘bad’ during certain scenes, and a faux-steel girder which joins stage left to right and ties the structure together. There are two raised platforms with detailed paintwork on each, where the bulk of the production would be played, which needed to be a thin 3mm ply material to adhere to the steel deck which was already in the venue. 

The wall structures are a timber structure faced in birch-ply then covered using vac-formed panels for the brickwork. They were then painstakingly painted by our scenic artists to resemble real woodfired brickwork from the correct time period, giving it age and texture and ensuring no one section was the same. 

Chris Bell, the Production manager from RENT said: “Chris and the team at J&C Joel have gone above and beyond on this production, and it shows in the final product. During the covid-19 pandemic, we have faced so many roadblocks, but the team dug in and got the production over the line, and made the show something special. Before J&C Joel was engaged – this did not seem possible”. 

The production opened on Friday 30 October 2020 to excellent reviews, but due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the show was cut short. The production was professionally filmed and is available to stream online at https://hopemilltheatre.co.uk. 

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