The talent of Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) Theater, Dance and Entertainment Technology students will be on full display with the presentation of the award-winning musical “Rent,” April 5-14 at the Kelsey Theatre on the college’s West Windsor campus.

Based loosely on the Puccini opera La Boheme, Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. The physical and emotional complications of the disease pervade the lives of Roger, Mimi, Tom and Angel, while Maureen deals with her chronic infidelity through performance art, and her partner, Joanne, wonders if their relationship is worth the trouble.

Meanwhile, Benny has sold out his Bohemian ideals in exchange for a hefty income and is on the outs with his former friends, and Mark, an aspiring filmmaker, feels li

ke an outsider to life in general. How these young bohemians negotiate their dreams, loves and conflicts provides the narrative thread to this groundbreaking musical.

“Rent” premiered on Broadway in 1996 to critical acclaim and won multiple awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Musical. The production closed in 2008 after 12 years, one of longest running shows on Broadway.

Cast members for MCCC’s student production of “Rent” includes: Jermaine Terry (Bordentown, N.J.) as Mark Cohen; Shawn Simmons (Hamilton Township, N.J.) as Roger Davis; Lisbeth Burgos (Lawrence Township, N.J.) as Mimi Márquez; Daniel Montero (Hamilton Township) as Tom Collins; Nicholas La Russa (Hamilton Township) as Angel Dumott Schunard; Rachel Ash (Somerville, N.J.) as Maureen Johnson; Trinity Miller (Trenton, N.J.) as Joanne Jefferson; Złatin Ivanov (East Windsor, N.J.) as Benny Coffin III; and Charlotte Tillery (Hamilton Township) as Mrs. Márquez.

Dance captains and members of the ensemble are Donna Hutchinson (Trenton) and Jessica Klatskin (Cranbury, N.J.), with other ensemble members that include Cole Kaelin and Ludnie Lubin (Hamilton Township), Melissa Hemel (Hightstown, N.J.), and Reba Dell’Angelo (Roebling, N.J.). Members of the dance ensemble are Brittany Felauer (Hamilton Township), Jordan Shutz (Chesterfield, N.J.), Nlijah Muhammad (Willingboro, N.J), and Valmiki Rajan (Trenton), with vocal ensemble members Angel Wallace (Bordentown City, N.J.), Benny Gonzalez (Pemberton, N.J.), Jordyn Navata (Hamilton Township), and Michael Havardansky (Princeton, N.J.).

Mercer County Community College Theater and Dance students during a rehearsal for the college’s student production of “Rent,” to be performed at MCCC’s Kelsey Theatre April 5-14 (Photo by Robert A. Terrano).

“Rent” is  directed by Tyann Sells and choreographed by Jody Gazenbeek-Person, with musical direction by Matthew Johnson. Student production crew includes Assistant Director Charlotte Tillery, Assistant Music Director Jackson Siegel (Princeton Junction, N.J.), and Assistant to the Choreographer Jawn Julian (Trenton). Maggie Gronethal (Lawrence Township) is Lighting Assistant, Sound Designer is Noah Schwartz (East Windsor), with Sean Robbins (Lawrence Township) on the Costume Team and Zhi Sharpe (Ewing, N.J.) serving as Properties Manager.

Performances for “Rent” will be Friday, April 5 and April 12 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 6 and April 13 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, April 7 and April 14 at 2 p.m. at MCCC’s Kelsey Theatre on the West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. Sunday, April 7 features a special ASL interpreted performance. Contact the Kelsey Theatre Box Office for seating.

A special after party follows the Friday, April 12, performance, sponsored by the MCCC Rainbow Alliance and the Drama Club. A donation of $8 is recommended for the Dance Party, with proceeds going to HiTops, a Princeton-based non-profit that provides  inclusive and youth-informed sex education and LGBTQ+ support for young people throughout New Jersey.

Tickets are $26-$24 and can be purchased through the Kelsey Theatre box office and may be purchased online at or by calling the Kelsey Box Office Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. – noon, at (609) 570-3333.

Kelsey Theatre is wheelchair accessible, with free parking next to the theater. For a complete listing of adult and children’s events, visit the Kelsey website or call the box office for a brochure.

About Mercer County Community College

Established in 1966, Mercer County Community College is a publicly supported comprehensive institution that provides opportunities for higher education through an open-door admission policy. The scenic 292-acre West Windsor Campus was opened in 1972 to serve the needs of Mercer County residents. MCCC’s James KerneyCampus, located in downtown Trenton, serves as an educational and cultural hub for city residents that meets the changing needs of thousands of students and community members seeking educational fulfillment and personal and career growth. Deborah E. Preston, President.

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