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School of Theatre Graduate Christian Thompson Returns to His 'Rent' Roots

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Christian Thompson

While a student at Penn State, Christian Thompson unknowingly began training for his current touring Broadway gig when School of Theatre Musical Director Beth Burrier taught him the vocal line for Benjamin Coffin III from the Tony Award-winning musical “Rent.”

“I looked at Christian after class one day and said, ‘You are the Benny-est Benny that ever was. I should teach you the track,’” Burrier said. “So we got together, and I taught him Benny in ‘Rent.’ … And here he is, doing Benny on the national tour.”

The 2015 graduate returns to campus as a part of the 20th-anniversary tour of “Rent” April 6 at Eisenhower Auditorium. Thompson plays the role of the landlord—and former roommate—of the main characters who threatens to kick them out of their apartment if they don’t pay their long-overdue rent. He also understudies the role of Roger Davis, an ex-junkie and HIV-positive musician who struggles to find the right notes for his next song.

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Image: Christian Thompson in a Penn State production in 2014. Photo by Patrick Mansell.