SU alumnus to perform in ‘Rent’ production at Oncenter
‘Rent’ actor Brian Gligor has an impressive list of things to do when the production comes to Syracuse.
‘I want to eat at Lemon Grass, get a raspberry martini at Pol Al’s, get a catfish [dish] at Alto Cinco, order a Sonoma Salad and a Blue Moon from Faegan’s,’ he said.
Gligor, who graduated from Syracuse University in 2002, is making a pilgrimage to his alma mater along with about 40 others to put on the musical ‘Rent’ at the Mulroy Civic Center Theaters at Oncenter from Oct. 7-9 at 7:30 p.m.
Gligor admits to being nervous about the performances, especially because he still has a lot of friends in the area.
‘The freshmen and sophomores that I worked with are now juniors and seniors,’ Gligor said. ‘And they better have bought their tickets months ago, otherwise I’ll be pissed.’
Gligor graduated with a degree in advertising from the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Not majoring in drama, however, didn’t hinder his ability to fulfill his theatric passions.
‘There’s a large community of non-drama majors that still appreciates theatre,’ Gligor said. ‘And I found that the best thing for me is to perform, so I found ways on campus to act in my extracurriculars.’
During his four years on campus, he was involved with First Year Players, Danceworks, Groovestand, Syracuse University Singers, Winjammers, and e5m. He also played the lead in the SU production of ‘Pippin.’
Gligor also founded Living Unscripted at SU, an improvisational group that facilitated discussion about social issues. He also participated in SU’s AIDS Task Force and was a teaching assistant for the human sexuality class. Because ‘Rent’ is a show that revolves around relationships and sexuality, he enjoys the production even more.
‘I love this show and the message it sends,’ said Gligor, who said he has loved ‘Rent’ since he saw it for the first time in high school. ‘Touring is going to get tough. I never know when I’m going to be able to do laundry or where my cell phone is going to work, but the story is about loving and living each day. And working to send a message like that, I find solace.’
‘Rent’ is set in New York City’s eccentric East Village and tells the story of several 20-somethings’ struggle with HIV, family, sexuality and drug addiction.
‘These are all common issues, and ‘Rent’ gives a great idea on how to deal with them,’ Gligor said. The production is put on by a company called Networks. It opened on Saturday in Burlington, Vt., with much success, even though the cast has rehearsed for only a month with just three returning members.
Gligor auditioned for this production before his senior year at SU and made it to final auditions before he was cut. But shortly after he graduated, a representative from the company called him and offered him the part of Mark, which Gligor readily accepted.
‘Mark is the narrator of the story – he’s sort of the central spokesperson to his circle of friends,’ Gligor said. ‘In the story, he tries to remove himself from the situation because he’s more involved than he wants to admit.’
Gligor said he and his character share personality characteristics.
‘When I was trying to figure out who I was, I thought I could remove my emotional side and be this happy person all the time,’ Gligor said. ‘It didn’t work at all, and Mark [tries and learns] the same thing in ‘Rent.”
Gligor also said there is universality to Mark’s character. Everyone who has ever been exhausted after helping a friend through a problem can identify with Mark, Gligor said.
Most everyone also can afford to see the show, thanks to the creator of ‘Rent,’ Jonathan Larson. For every showing of ‘Rent,’ the first two rows of seats are sold two hours before the show at the box office for the college-friendly price of $20.
‘Jonathan was a poor bohemian himself and wanted to make sure everyone could afford it,’ Gligor explained. ‘It was his idea that you could wait in line for cheap tickets.’
Despite the fact that Larson died suddenly of an aneurysm Jan. 25, 1996, the night of the final dress rehearsal of ‘Rent’ at the New York Theatre Workshop, Gligor said the cast is trying to convey Larson’s original vision of ‘Rent.’
‘Jonathan’s family and friends have been really involved in the rehearsal process, so we know what the lyrics are from and where the characters came from,’ Gligor said.
Gligor feels that Larson would be pleased with what his company has done with the show.
‘Our production tries hard to put across Jonathan’s belief, which is a beautiful perspective of the world,’ he said.
Gligor couldn’t be happier to be part of a production like ‘Rent,’
‘I am fulfilling my dream right now,’ he said. ‘It’s always been my goal to help more with social issues, and it’s my life goal to be able to do what I love.’
This particular company’s production of Rent has scheduled performances that run until July, and Gligor says there is a good chance that the company will extend its season. Even though he says acting is exhausting, Gligor looks forward to long road ahead.
‘We get to go to Tokyo. That should be interesting,’ Gligor said. The tour will make stops all over Canada and the United States. The Tokyo trip is scheduled for February.
Gligor is excited to travel overseas in the same manner that he did his junior year at SU, when he spent a semester in London. Even though he was away from his campus activities, Gligor didn’t have a hard time keeping occupied.
‘I saw 32 shows in London,’ Gligor said. ‘I usually went three times a week to see a show.’
Gligor is excited to come back to Syracuse and attempt to relive some of his best college memories.
‘I had an awesome time in college, and I can’t wait to go back.’
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