The 20th Anniversary Tour of ‘Rent’ is coming to Dayton’s Schuster Center, starring Aiyana Smash who ever so fittingly is also celebrating her second decade on earth.
The 20th Anniversary Tour of ‘Rent’ is coming to Dayton’s Schuster Center, starring Aiyana Smash who ever so fittingly is also celebrating her second decade on earth. Both Smash and the hit musical ‘Rent’ are spreading love all over the country in unmeasurable ways. While Smash has evolved over her twenty years, ‘Rent’ remains as relevant as ever with its message about the value of love.
Smash believes that it’s the timeless message within ‘Rent’ that has kept it alive for twenty years. “It’s a story everyone can relate to; no matter their age, race, or sexual orientation. At its essence it’s about love and how love can get you through the hardest of times in life,” she said.
The Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning musical follows a year in the lives of seven artists struggling to survive while pursuing their dreams without selling out. Its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, highlights the importance of friendship, creativity, and particularly love. Smash plays the role of Mimi; a drug addicted, exotic dancer who is HIV+. Though totally different from the character she portrays, Smash still see’s parts of herself within Mimi. “I love that she embodies the aspects of my life that I don’t get to delve into very often, like her feistiness,” she said. “Mimi also has a great sense of style, I love the costumes.”
From the bond she’s formed with Mimi, Smash has gained a deeper perspective on the character. “Most just see a 19 year old drug addict, stripper, but she’s really a lost teenager trying to find her way. She’s a sweetheart who loves life, but doesn’t know how to go about it,” said Smash.
A recent graduate of The Institute for American Musical Theatre, Smash is the youngest cast member and is thrilled to already be on her first national tour. “I never thought I’d be part of such a monumental show. It feels amazing and surreal,” she said. “To be touring the world with such an amazing cast while most of my friends are still in college trying to get by is surreal.”
More than just great music, performances and all the artistry involved in a top-notch musical, Smash advises that the audience also experiences a full range of emotions. “All the feelings that life has to offer are included. Come expecting to feel human,” she said.
‘Rent’ will be at the Schuster Center, January 21-26. Tickets are still available.
Photo credits: Amy Boyle
Mike Woody is a life long resident of Dayton, and has a passion for writing, which is good because he doesn't excel at much of anything else, except eating.