DreamWrights aims to bring special attention to HIV/AIDS with 'Rent'

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
Kendall O'Keefe, Joseph Fagan, Drew Dillon, Jonah Unger and Jacob McLain rehearse a scene in production of "Rent."

While many musicals evoke powerful themes through character-driven stories that actors bring to life, DreamWrights Center for Community Arts is aiming to take this one step further.

For its upcoming musical, "Rent: School Edition," DreamWrights is hosting a panel to discuss and educate about HIV/AIDS, which is a prominent theme in the musical.

"We keep trying to find ways to bring the community into conversations about the productions we're doing," said Kate Harmon, marketing coordinator for DreamWrights. 

The panel, which is taking place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 13, before the first performance of "Rent," will feature guests from Family First Health and the City Health Bureau and a local resident who has HIV. The panel is free to attend.

Joseph Fagan and Drew Dillon rehearse a scene in production of “Rent: School Edition” running June 13-23 at DreamWrights Center for Community Arts.

"There's such a stigma around HIV," Harmon said, citing it has stereotypes that it's a disease from the '80s that only gay men get. "It clearly affects many different people from all walks of life."

This production of "Rent" has a cast of teenage actors between the ages of 13 and 19. Harmon said this panel is especially important for young people such as the actors in this musical.

"Rent: School Edition" will run Thursday through Sunday and June 21 to June 23. All showings are at 7 p.m., except for Sundays, which are at 3 p.m.

Tickets are available both online at http://dreamwrights.org or at the door for an additional $2. Reserved tickets, for seating in the first two rows, are $16. General admission tickets are $12.

"I think the cool thing for me about 'Rent' is this is the teen edition," Harmon said. "They just came in and knocked our socks off with their voices." 

Kendall O'Keefe rehearses a scene in production of “Rent: School Edition” hitting the DreamWrights main stage Thursday, June 13.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.