In the Theatre in the Grove rehearsal room, a pair of high heels has been sacrificed in the name of musical theater.
Actor Tyler Oshiro, a 2013 Pacific alumnus, has been hard at work taking on the role of Angel for the award-winning broadway musical “RENT,” which will open at Forest Grove’s Theatre in the Grove (TITG) on Feb. 26, 2016.
Oshiro discussed that taking on the role of someone like Angel “was not easy.” He said, “this is a character I haven’t done yet, and so it would be an interesting challenge.” Oshiro explained that in order to become Angel he has had to learn how to dance in high heels, play the drums, and put on his own makeup. “The suggestion I got for that was go and watch RuPaul’s ‘Drag Race’” Oshiro explains, and he managed to watch every season he could obtain for free. “I just, like, studied what they were doing, when they were doing their lip-syncs, performing, and in the sort of attitudes and mannerisms that they had.” Oshiro was also walking in heels so much that a strap broke off of one of them.
“RENT” takes place during a period of time in the United States when the epidemic of AIDS was not yet recognized by the government. “It was the gay cancer”, he said, referring to the negative perception of AIDS during the Reagan administration. Oshiro talked about how the Act-Up movement described in the play actually paved the way for experimental medicine in AIDS research, and then later cancer research. “Having a social movement, a grassroots movement to bring attention to these kinds of issues that are constantly getting ignored, I think we see that playing out recently in like, the police brutality and the racial profiling…the ability of people to take a stand for themselves when the government refuses to acknowledge that something is happening to a small facet of the community.”
Oshiro believed that current students at Pacific can still learn from this show. “You get to see into the past, almost, and become familiar with a time we have almost no experience with.”
Even though “RENT” is known as a broadway musical, Oshiro explained that the show lends itself to a smaller venue. “The first moment of the show is just Roger with his guitar, and Mark coming in to film him”, he said. “There are moments when characters almost break the fourth wall, where they seem to be talking to the audience, and so having like, a smaller theatre for that is really good.”
“RENT” is not the only production Oshiro has performed in at TITG. Oshiro has also been involved in “As You Like It” and “The Full Monty” at the community theatre. He explains it will be the last production for a while due to his plans to attend graduate school in the near future. Since graduating Pacific University in 2013, Oshiro has worked for Intel and AmeriCorp. On top of performing in “RENT”, he currently works as a Program Coordinator for a non-profit organization called Impact NW in Portland.
Pacific students have the unique opportunity to purchase discounted tickets if they arrive about ten minutes before a show that is not previously sold out and request to buy the “student rush tickets” that are only $5.
“RENT” will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 26, 27, March 4, 5, 11 and 12. There will also be 2:30 p.m. matinee performances on Feb. 28, March 6 and 13.