Hickory Community Theatre's Production of RENT Pairs Newcomer with Experienced Actor in Fascinating Roles

The modern musical, Rent, features a central group of complicated characters connected to one another by complex relationships. Mark, who serves as the narrator of the story, is trying to get over his breakup with Maureen, who left him for another woman, Joanne. Maureen is a drama queen, a performance artist who is quite flirtatious, leading to complications in her relationships with both Joanne and Mark. Joanne, on the other hand, is an Ivy League-educated public interest lawyer with very politically powerful parents; one is undergoing confirmation to be a judge, the other is a government official. In the Hickory Community Theatre's production the two women are played by Ingrid Anna-Lisa Keller and Cornelia "CC" Cooper.

Cooper is a newcomer, making her stage debut in this production. She was prompted to audition by local playwright Molly Bass, who heard Cooper sing at Saint Luke's United Methodist Church and urged her go out for a part in Rent. A native of Statesville, where she manages an Arby's restaurant, Cooper said she likes the HCT for its welcoming, non-judgmental atmosphere, and was drawn to this part because, "Joanne is serious and I like that, sometimes." A military veteran who served three years in the U.S. Army, she is now a student at Catawba Valley Community College, where she is Secretary of the Student Government Association.

Keller is very experienced performer, she made her stage debut at HCT in the mid-90's and has been in over a dozen productions there. More recently, she spent two and a half years in Seoul, South teaching English to students aged 16 months to 65 years, along with drama, music and art classes. Then she spent two years in London, where she received her MA in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy from the University of London, Goldsmiths in 2014. When asked why she auditioned for this role she said, "A lot of people don't like Maureen as a character. She's dramatic, demanding and very flirtatious. If Maureen were a man, she would be called passionate, motivated and charming. I think she's misunderstood as a character. I admire her strength and her refusal to change who she is to please people."

Performances of Rent are 8:00 pm Fridays & Saturdays, 7:30 pm Thursdays, and 2:30 Sundays, May 12 through June 4, 2017. Tickets are $20. There is a senior discount of $2 and tickets for students and youth 18 and under are just $10. Tickets for Thursday performances are $16 for adults and $10 for students and youth. Tickets may be purchased online at hickorytheatre.showare.com or at the theatre box office. The box office is open 12-5 Wed through Sat in person or by calling 828-328-2283.

RENT is produced by Catawba Valley Medical Center and Robert Abbey. This show is the ninth production of the Theatre's 68th season, sponsored by Paramount Automotive and A Cleaner World. The Hickory Community Theatre is a Funded Affiliate of the United Arts Council of Catawba County.

This production is recommended for mature audiences only because of adult language and sexual situations.


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