One scene, two photos
There was a moment while taking photos of the final dress rehearsal of SummerFest’s Rent that I took the camera from my eye.
“Am I going to shoot this again?” I thought.
It was Without You, the scene in Act II where the reality sets in that some of the characters are facing imminent death due to AIDS, and a few of their relationships are falling apart. The song is sung by Mimi, who is facing both situations, while Collins cares for his lover Angel, who is fading fast, in the background.
I first shot this moment in a rehearsal July 11 sort of capturing Mimi’s forlorn mood in the performance of actor Jessica Lucas.
Our page design deity Randy liked the image and selected it to be the lead photo on the Life + Arts section July 18.
July 20, I ventured out to the Arboretum where SummerFest would be performed to take dress rehearsal shots to go with several pieces including a show review, an online slideshow and an article I was working on about Rent and the AIDS epidemic. So, I wanted general show shots, but I also wanted some images that would speak to the story about AIDS. For that last piece, I aimed at several things, including the Life Support meeting in Act I and the relationship of Angel and Collins, characters who both have AIDS.
When Without You rolled around, I was ready to skip it because, like I said, I thought I’d done it. But then, Jessica came and sat on the edge of the stage, a choice I ultimately didn’t think worked in performance because she disappeared to most of the audience. But for my purposes, it worked great, giving the image a different perspective and allowing me to better frame the tableau of Collins and Angel behind Jessica while also catching that forlorn look again. So, I shot several frames assuming it would be a slideshow shot, though I did also turn one in with the AIDS story.
And a different designer, Bruce, selected it as the lead shot for the story, which was a 1A centerpiece.
I rolled this one over in my head for a while, and ultimately I think it’s just a testament to a great moment Jonathan Larson created when he wrote the show and the way Tracey Bonner directed the scene in SummerFest’s production. And when you’re a theater photographer, that’s what you want to capture: moments. I just happened to catch this one twice.