To play Angel in Western’s upcoming musical production “RENT,” freshman Richie Olson must learn what it’s like to dress as a woman and live with HIV/AIDS.
“The closest thing [to drag] I’ve done was when I went to a Nicki Minaj concert dressed up as her,” Olson said. “I used a pillow to make her butt.”
Olson said he stuffed the pillow up a pair of “booty-shorts” to maximize the effect.
Western professor and director Jim Lortz described “RENT,” set to run at Western this May, as “a group of bohemian artists in the lower Manhattan ghetto” trying to survive and express their artistry in light of HIV/AIDS and other challenges, including relationships, drug addiction and paying their rent.
Four of the eight main characters are living with HIV/AIDS. New York is home to 14.2 percent of Americans living with HIV/AIDS, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Olson said he is enthusiastic about playing Angel, although he originally auditioned for the role of Mark.
“I wasn’t even thinking about Angel,” Olson said. “I’ve never played a character like Angel before.”