Actress saves the day at Hope Mill Theatre production of Rent

Actress Gabriela Garcia has saved the day after illness struck the cast of the sold-out critically acclaimed production of Rent at Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre.

Hope Mill Theatre Rent understudy
Tom Frances (Roger), Gabriella Garcia (Mimi) and Luke Bayer (Mark) in Hope Mill Theatre’s Rent.

Here at BritishTheatre we love a good understudy story. This one involves Gabriela Garcia who stepped in at just a few hours notice to play the pivotal role of Mimi in the Hope Mill Theatre production of Jonathan Larson’s musical Rent.

Garcia had a ticket to see the show when an actress fell ill, with no understudies available. The theatre had already had to cancel 3 shows on Sunday and Wednesday, then discovered Gabriela was coming to see it on Thursday.

Arriving in the city at 11 am, she was fitted for a costume, had a rehearsal with the MD and run-through with the entire company before appearing in front of a paying audience that night. She was set to return to the show on Friday.

Garcia, who has previously appeared in the Royal Exchange’s West Side Story, Rent director Luke Sheppard’s production of In the Heights, said today: “DREAMS COME TRUE – all the times I performed ‘Out Tonight’ in my kitchen I was rehearsing for this moment without knowing it! Rent was my first show out of college…I saw it on Broadway years ago and I bought a Rent notepad, that same Rent notepad was the one I used last night to write down my track….what’s life ?!”

William Whelton of The Hope Mill Theatre said: “Unfortunately due to cast illness – not Covid related – we had been forced to cancel several shows at the beginning of the week. The whole week was sold out, so this was extremely disappointing for all involved including our audiences. After a year of cancelled shows, it is always a last resort for us and as a small venue with a limited run show cancels can be very damaging to us, especially during our covid recovery. Watching Gabriela step into the role with such professionalism, passion and poise was truly overwhelming. We are eternally grateful to her for saving the show.”

Rent continues its run at the Hope Mill until 19 September.


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