There's much to recommend about this revival of the Pulitzer-winning 1996 musical, including a scrappy, mostly local cast that blends better than any of the four previous ensembles I've seen. There's also an earnest effort to mine what little humor can be found in Jonathan Larson's bleak period piece (inspired by Puccini's La bohème), set in New York at the nadir of the AIDS epidemic among those we might today call the 99 percent. However, director Bill Berry has also coated Larson's often naked rage with a thick sheen of nostalgia, and not all art should be prettified. I miss the grit-and-spit that made Rent such a relevant hit in its heyday. Yet what Berry gets right here is very right, indeed. He and musical director R.J. Tancioco elicit one pitch-perfect performance after another from the vocally well-matched cast. That ensemble includes Aaron C. Finley as frustrated musician Roger, Naomi Morgan as his smack-addict dancer girlfriend Mimi, Logan Benedict as their slumlord schoolmate Benny, Brandon O'Neill as anarchist Tom, and Daniel Berryman as filmmaker/witness Mark, here given a WASPy outsider spin. Particular standouts for me were Jerick Hoffer, ringing all the right bells as drag queen Angel and looking like the child of Ziggy Stardust and Wilma Flintstone; and Ryah Nixon as Mark's ex, Maureen, who offers up the best "Over the Moon" I've yet heard onstage. KEVIN PHINNEY [See Kevin's full review.]

Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: July 21. Continues through Aug. 19, 2012

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