This pre-“Rent” musical of Jonathan Larson, who died unexpectedly on the eve of the opening of that smash hit, will certainly be of enormous interest to those Rentheads who are curious about the gestating genius behind that show, but of less interest to anyone else because every dramatic and musical theme of “Rent” is explored less effectively here. It is worth noting that Larson himself abandoned this work, which was initially conceived as a one-man show for himself and was performed to memorable effect in that form throughout the early 1990s before Larson realized that making a rock opera update of Puccini’s “La boheme” with separate characters was a more transparent way to communicate the same message about love and loss. This three-person 2001 posthumous adaptation seeks to tilt the show closer to melodrama, portrayed in arrangements of apparent “American Idol” wannabes, and as such lacks the edge and energy that makes “Rent” so contagiously compelling and which is clearly present even in grainy home videos of Larson doing this show himself with an onstage rock band. And though this Pegasus Players production does have its four-piece rock quartet onstage, the timid band tends to drag and allows a cast more at home acting than singing to lead them around. (Dennis Polkow)
O’Rourke Center at Truman College’s O’Rourke Center, 1145 W. Wilson, (773)878-9761. $17-$25. Through June 25.