LTCC dedicates ‘Rent’ to faculty member killed in Okla. |

LTCC dedicates ‘Rent’ to faculty member killed in Okla.

Axie Navas
Adriana Avitia plays Mimi in the Lake Tahoe Community College's production of "Rent." Axie Navas / Tahoe Daily Tribune

If you go

What: LTCC’s Rent

When: June 14-15, 20-22 at 8 p.m. and June 16, 23 at 2 p.m.

Where: LTCC’s Duke Theatre

Cost: $15 general admission

Contact: 530-541-4660 ext. 207

When it comes to theater, Susan Boulanger doesn’t back down from a challenge.

So when the Lake Tahoe Community College theater director decided to tackle “Rent” in July, she wanted to make sure the difficult production was done right even if that meant holding auditions in February and including talent from the valley.

Based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera “La Bohème,” the rock musical tells the story of a group of young, impoverished artists struggling to survive and create in New York during the Bohemian Alphabet City days and under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

“None of these characters are pristine. They all have a dark side, they all have flaws, which is something we can all relate to,” Boulanger said.

The first time Boulanger saw “Rent,” she wasn’t impressed. It wasn’t until she tuned into the score last year that something clicked, and she discovered the musical’s resonance.

“I really started to listen. I realized this was really good stuff. I realized I had a deep connection to this show,” she said.

“Rent” doesn’t shy away from loss and death, but its ultimate message is one of hope and encouragement to live life to the fullest. That’s part of the reason why, since Boulanger heard about the death of Carl Young, the show’s been woven into the memory of her former colleague and storm chaser.

Young died Friday chasing a tornado in Oklahoma alongside fellow storm chasers Tim and Paul Samaras. Young, who taught geology at LTCC and was named a distinguished alumnus in 2010 for his research and work, was a respected researcher who’d worked on Discovery Channel’s series “Storm Chasers.”

Boulanger said she plans to dedicate the musical to Young. While the show explores the heartbreak of loss, it also shows the importance of love and friendship, she said.

“Carl had so much more of his life to live. He was the living example of following your dream today,” Boulanger said. “I loved Carl. He was a friend and a colleague. It’s been really hard the last few days. Losing Carl during this process — a man who was so passionate about what he was doing — to have lost him at any time would be devastating, but to lose him during the process of rehearsing Rent, he’s been woven inextricably in the fabric of this production.”

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