Ain't Nothin' Goin' On but Rent

That award-winning play about singing, dancing AIDS victims returns.

Cleveland art
Chanté Carmel Frierson has spent the past 16 months with the touring production of Rent, which comes to Akron today. At each and every show, she uses her role as outspoken lesbian lawyer Joanne Jefferson to warn other black women about AIDS.

You’d think that this late in the game, folks would be taking precautions. But African-American ladies account for nearly 72 percent of newly diagnosed HIV cases in this country. “We’re plagued with this virus more than anybody else, because we’re at the highest risk,” says Frierson, a Los Angeles native. “It’s scary when you think of all the people who ignore the warnings. When I’m on that stage, I’m educating everybody in that audience.” If you haven’t heard, the Tony-winning musical revolves around a bunch of bohos struggling to make ends meet in New York City during the early ’90s. The AIDS pandemic spreading throughout the community adds to their problems. Frierson says she can relate to her character’s relentless crusade. “It’s easy for me to get into the role,” she says. “She is who she is, and she doesn’t hide it.”
Sat., April 21, 2 & 8 p.m.

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