In Part 3 of a series of interviews with the cast of The Metropolitan Youth Theatre’s Rent, meet Ben Cherington.
Introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you before on local stages.
Hello everyone! My name is Ben Cherington. I am a rising senior at Metropolitan School of the Arts, and over the years, I have been seen onstage at The Little Theatre of Alexandria, Theatre Lab, McLean Community Players, and many productions with Metropolitan, most notably Jamie Wellerstein in Metropolitan Youth Theatre’s inaugural production: The Last 5 Years.
Who do you play in RENT and how do you relate to your character? Does this character have any of your personality or traits?
I play Roger Davis in RENT. This is a role I have dreamed of playing since I became interested in theatre in elementary school. Roger and I are very similar in that we are both very shy, yet very motivated and eager to find our place in the world.
What has been the biggest challenge learning to play this role?
This year has been a year of great expansion for me in terms of developing full, multi-dimensional characters, and with a show so iconic as RENT, in a part that so many great performers have taken on, there is definitely an extra layer of difficulty in clarifying the objectives that will make Roger come alive to me.
Which character in RENT is most like you and how?
I feel like I have always connected with Roger the most! I think that with any childhood dream role, you find ways to connect yourself to this person. This show has been by my side throughout my whole life, and I feel as if the values that the show teaches have been ingrained into who I am today.
What have you learned about yourself-the actor and singer-during this experience?
With RENT in particular, I feel like I have taken this opportunity to blend the acting and singing together. They are not two separate talents, but rather two ways to tell one story.
What does RENT have to say to theatregoers of your generation and how is it still relevant?
I see the show as a token of encouragement for young artists (and young people in general) to take chances. As it states in the show, you have no direct control of the past or the future, so live in the moment you’re in now and do the things you’re too scared to do! Talk to new people! Don’t let the fear of regret weigh you down from doing the things you would like to try, because in the end, all you’ll regret are the chances you didn’t take.
What song that you do not sing is your favorite and why?
My favorite song that I don’t sing is probably “Take Me or Leave Me”. As one of the most well-known songs from the show, this song has quite a few fans even outside of the music theatre realm. Also, Cara and Marcia absolutely blow me away whenever they sing that song, so maybe I’m just biased!
Have you appeared in other productions of RENT and if so-who did you play- and how is this production different and unique?
This is my first time appearing in RENT, but hopefully not my last.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing your performance in RENT?
Coming from a completely youth run program, there are inevitably doubts that people will have about our abilities, including ourselves. RENT presents an energy of overcoming obstacles and making the best out of every day, and that’s why I think RENT is the perfect show for us right now. It’s so important to pass on the message of pride and comfortability in one’s own skin to our community, so I really feel like we’re giving back in that process.
The Metropolitan Youth theatre presents a student directed, produced, and performed version of the Broadway musical RENT on July 31, 2015 at 7:30 pm, August 1st and 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm, and August 2nd at 2:00 pm – at 1st Stage – 1524 Spring Hill Road, in McLean, VA. Purchase your tickets at the door or online.
Meet the Cast of The Metropolitan Youth Theatre’s ‘RENT’: Part 1: Marcia Cunning.
Meet the Cast of The Metropolitan Youth Theatre’s ‘RENT’: Part 2: Jordan Sledd.