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clippings: fans in the news

New York Newsday, Sunday, May 11,1997
Rentheads and Jekkies
By Patrick Pacheco

IN THE "get- a-life" department, it would be hard to do better than a species of fanatics known as "Rentheads" and "Jekkies" - people who have waited in line for days to see "Rent" for the 10th time or flown thousands of miles to see "Jekyll & Hyde" on Broadway.

Take Michelle Moran, a 20- year-old Hunter College theater major who has camped out at the Nederlander Theatre box office for 51 hours for tickets to a show she now has seen more than three dozen times. She's a Renthead and proud to be one: "Where else can you go, waste half a day and know half the people there?" Waiting for the special $20 tickets to go on sale, Moran says, is the only way she can afford to see the show repeatedly. She's such a devoted fan, she says, because she identifies with one of the characters.

Renthead Mike McCarthy, 31, says "the raw pure energy" of the show is what has attracted him to it 18 times. The health-care professional describes "Rent" as "psy- chotherapy' for him; he es to the show whenever he feels he needs a lift.

When New York critics dismissed 'Jekyll & Hyde" and the Tony committee failed to give it a nomination in the best-musical category, a band of devotees took the slights personally. "We were absolutely shocked and outraged," says Rachel Brown, 23, of Dallas, president of the 'J & H" Fan Club. She first saw the show on its national tour in 1995 and was captivated by stars Linda Eder and Robert Cuccioli and by Frank Wildhorn's sweeping music. She was drawn back 16 times. "We have several hundred members from across the country," Brown says of the club. They connect on the Internet on everything from Eder's hairdo to the latest review. When "Jekyll & Hyde" began previews on Broadway, 100-plus Jekkies gathered in New York for a party.

And Jekkies already have brought tickets to the Tony Awards at Raidio City Music Hall June 1. "We just want to make sure the show has some support," says Brown. You can be sure nominee Cuccioli's arrival will receive their most vocal response that night. "If there's is any justice, he'll win," says Brown.