Downtown Crowd

PLT Presents RENT as 2023-2024 Season Finale

Pensacola Little Theatre (PLT) proudly presents Jonathan Larson’s RENT, an iconic rock opera musical, as the grand finale of the 2023-2024 season. Running every weekend from June 7 to 23, RENT is directed by Kathy Holsworth, with music direction by Ginger Caro and choreography by Michael Dennis.

Winner of both the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, RENT has transcended generations to become a pop culture phenomenon. Its dynamic soundtrack and compelling narrative have resonated with audiences worldwide.

RENT, loosely based on Puccini’s beloved opera La Boheme, is set in New York City’s 1991 Lower East Side city-scape amidst the rampantly raging HIV/AIDS crisis. The production tells the story of a year in the life of a group of starving artists living rather than dying as they pursue their passions.

The physical and emotional complications of HIV/AIDS deeply impact the lives of Roger, Mimi, Tom and Angel. Maureen explores her chronic infidelity through performance art while her partner, Joanne, wonders if their relationship is worth the heartache as she navigates the friend group. Benny has sold out his Bohemian ideals in exchange for a corporate income and must negotiate with his former friends. Mark, an aspiring filmmaker, feels like an outsider to life in general. While each character has different motivations and reactions to their respective situations, RENT showcases how this group of friends comes together to support and love one another.

Both new and returning cast members will take the stage to bring this beloved production to life, with Pensacola natives having the chance to enjoy some notable favorites in the local theater scene.

Veronica Lindholm, who plays Maureen, has performed at PLT as the lead in Mamma Mia, as well as at PSC as the lead role of Funny Girl, Fanny Brice. Nick Arnstein, who performed alongside Lindholm in the production as Benjamin Haupt, plays the role of Angel in PLT’s production of RENT. Mark is played by Zander Smith, who many recognize from his leading role in SpongeBob at PSC. Other actors of note are Nathan Simmons, who plays Rodger, and Anthony Broughton, who plays Collins.

“Our cast is amazing, and the energy that they are giving us during rehearsal is just extreme,” RENT Choreographer Michael Dennis said. “They are super talented and willing to put in all their effort to make it a wonderful show. They’re very dedicated, and our set designer, Kayla Stephenson, is doing an amazing job making sure everything works with the choreography.”

RENT is set against the iconic 1991 New York City scaffolding featured in the original production, which will prove to be nostalgic for the audience. “The band will be on stage instead of in the pit, which will make the show feel more live,” Dennis added.

PLT’s RENT will not be a direct copy, but show producers are staying true to Larson’s original production. “I think that people that are older will enjoy the show because it represents their time period, and it appeals to younger audiences because it’s an iconic show,” Dennis said. “It’s a little irreverent, and the music is rocking.”

While this show resonates with international audiences, please note that the production does contain strong language and adult themes.

Written in the 90s, it’s interesting that RENT is considered a period piece. People ages 18 and older have grown up cherishing this music but may have lacked true understanding of the material. PLT found itself exploring the concepts with not only the audience, but also the cast as their production of RENT developed.

As PLT’s artistic director, Kathy Holsworth has been directing for 20 years. She works with a selection committee made up of 40 volunteers to select titles, and Holsworth gets to suggest one title a year for her major project. Her original selection was Rock of Ages, but unfortunately, PLT was unable to get the rights to produce the show. Holsworth worked with music director Ginger Caro to brainstorm different rock musicals. They soon found out that there had been no other amateur productions of RENT produced in the area as of yet. The material was nostalgic and challenging, and Holsworth and Caro had lots to say about it. They brought the title to the selection committee and were surprised to find that they were able to get the rights.

Holsworth noted that RENT was the hardest casting call that she’s experienced in 20 years of directing because of the meaning and depth associated with the musical. According to Dennis, RENT felt like a long time coming for Holsworth, Caro and himself.

“It was what we lived through, and we all had friends that died from AIDS. We knew what that was like,” Dennis explained. “Then, our cast is in their 20s. We’ve had to do a lot of education on what the lyrics and some of the references mean because those terms and words weren’t around for them. They don’t understand how deadly AIDS was. We have medications and people have been living with it for years, but during this time in RENT, it was a death sentence.”

Exploring this time period through such artistic expression as RENT can, in turn, change how cast, crew, producers and audience members see themselves. “RENT has rich meaning for our cast, but also for audiences because it brings perspective for what we have and what we have had, both good and bad,” Holsworth explained.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and Red Ribbon Foundation (RRF) are proud sponsors of PLT’s production of RENT. While the show is sure to entertain audience members with songs that rock and a story that resonates with all ages, production organizers and these sponsor organizations plan to educate the public about the impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis using real-world experiences. For more information, visit and

“I hope audience members, and even our cast, gain understanding about what the time period was like for people,” Dennis said. “The power of friendship and love is most important to living with any crisis, and what better way to do it through music and dance that’s both entertaining and educational.”

For event details and ticket prices, visit, or check out PLT on Facebook @PensacolaLittleTheatre.