This is the second part in a series covering the production of RENT, giving a behind-the-scenes look into the makings of the performance of the much-beloved Broadway show.

To read Part I, click here. https://www.sierranevadaally.org/2022/02/15/rent-no-day-but-today/

Carson City’s Wild Horse Productions is currently preparing for its opening of RENT, which will begin a seven-show run at the Brewery Arts Center’s Black Box Theater on Thursday, March 3. 

Showrunners wanted diverse casting for this show that’s focused on telling stories from different perspectives. Rent debuted on Broadway in 1996. Set in late-1980s New York, it tells the story of a year in the life of a cast of characters dealing with the everyday realities of poverty and the AIDS epidemic and has been lauded over the years for placing racially diverse and queer characters at its center.

Given the demographics of the community, casting for RENT was a challenging endeavor. The production partnered with consultant Anthony Mendoza, who specializes in inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA), to assist with community outreach. Mendoza came with years of experience in the northern Nevada theater scene: acting, directing, and sound design. 

“We were fortunate to partner with Anthony to help us reach out in an authentic way to the local community and create a safe space for this work,” said Sierra Scott of Wild Horse Productions. “We are really proud of and grateful for the amazing cast who came out for this show.”

The effort was a success—and the production features a diverse cast, with a group of talented actors of different races, ethnicities, genders, and body types. 

MEET THE CAST

Quentin Powers

QUENTIN POWERS (ROGER):  Quentin has always loved theater and music. His favorite roles have been Captain Dauntless in the Return to the Forbidden Planet, Bill Slank and Teacher in Peter and the Starcatcher, Davey in Newsies, Smee in Peter Pan, and Archibald in the Secret Garden. When he is not at rehearsal, he is bussing or hosting at Sassafras Eclectic Food Joint, making and installing signs around town or training as part of the Marine Corps Reserves.

Serena Dantzler

SERENA DANTZLER (JOANNE): Serena has been on stage since age 5, and one of her favorite productions is Jonathan Larsen’s RENT. Having been featured in roles such as the Scarecrow in The Wiz and Sour Kangaroo in Seussical the Musical, Serena is ecstatic to perform again after years of inactivity. Serena’s goal is to graduate with a degree in computer science. 

Michael Smith III

MICHAEL SMITH, III (TOM COLLINS): Michael Smith, III is a husband, father of three, author, singer, drummer, preacher and Amazon manager. This is his fourth musical, his sixth show, and his first with Wild Horse.

Tiffany Cornejo

TIFFANY CORNEJO (MIMI): This is Tiffany’s second musical, and her first with the Wild Horse Productions. She loves to sing and dance and is currently attending the University of Nevada, Reno. 

John Paul Rivard

JOHN PAUL RIVARD (ANGEL): John Paul Rivard is thrilled to be making his Wild Horse Productions debut. He has been performing for over 22 years in California, Hawaii and Nevada. He studied at Solano College Theater – Actors Training Program, graduating 2009.

Xander Borg

XANDER BORG (MARK): Xander has been performing since 2013, with favorite roles including Don Lockwood in Singin’ in the Rain, Reverend Shaw in Footloose, and Bert in Mary Poppins. Xander hopes to remain involved in the arts and pursue a career in film production. 

Michael Rapisora

MICHAEL RAPISORA (BENNY): Michael has portrayed a diverse cast of characters over the years and has been a featured soloist with Nevada Opera, Nevada P’Opera, and ASPEN A Cappella. Performing with multiple repertory companies as an actor, musician and music director has been a rewarding experience for him, and he is excited to return to the stage at the Brewery Arts Center in his first production with Wild Horse Productions.

Laura Vo

LARA VO (MAUREEN): This is Lara’s first performance with Wild Horse Productions. Lara received her Bachelor of Arts in musical theater from Weber State University and has previously performed in several productions, including the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, 35MM: A Musical Exhibition and Gloria. When Lara is not doing theater, her passions are social work and aerial arts. 

Ethan Spier

ETHAN SPIER (COMPANY): Ethan is stoked to be a part of another Wild Horse Production show. He has been acting off and on since elementary school, and his two favorite roles have been Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid Jr. and Kurt Kelly in Heathers: High School Edition. Whether it be on stage or behind the scenes, Ethan loves to be a part of theater and hopes to pursue a career within the theater/film arts.

Ryan Walker

RYAN WALKER (COMPANY): Ryan started acting one year ago and is excited to be performing in RENT. In his first year of acting, Ryan has performed in the indie movie, The Devil’s Children, and Elf The Musical. Ryan has also booked his first paid commercial. His passions are acting and helping others.

Alicia Borden

ALICIA BORDEN (COMPANY): Alicia has been involved in theater since she was eight, all thanks to her parents who showed her how theater worked from the stage to the wings. Alicia is married to husband Elijah and is mother to daughter Eleanor.

Rachel Vallin

RACHEL VALLIN (COMPANY): Rachel is currently working full time and pursuing a degree in musical theater. This is her first production. She has been a musician since she was a child and hopes to turn performance into a career. Outside of performing, Rachel enjoys reading, experimenting in the kitchen, and traveling. 

Trevor Young 

TREVOR YOUNG (COMPANY, MARK UNDERSTUDY): Trevor’s first show was Winnie The Pooh Jr. in 2013 with Wild Horse Children’s Theater. Some of his favorite roles were Shrek in Shrek Jr., Gomez in The Addams Family, and being a member of the dance troupe in Mamma Mia. Trevor loves being on stage and backstage as a theater tech. He wants to continue a career in musical theater and become a Disney cast member.

Tabitha Andrews

TABITHA ANDREWS (COMPANY, JOANNE UNDERSTUDY): Tabitha has performed in over 15 shows and is currently trying her hand at directing and choreographing. Her latest project is a local drag king performance group called the Kings of Reno. Tabitha studied musical theater in college but is now pursuing a master’s degree in psychology in order to continue working with kiddos with disabilities. She also has a passion for helping animals and the environment.

Jacob Nichols

JACOB NICHOLS (COMPANY, ROGER UNDERSTUDY): Jake started his musical theater journey back in 2008 with his first show, Annie. Some of his favorite roles to date include Ram Sweeney in Heathers: High School Edition, Shrek in Shrek Jr., and Finch in Newsies. Jake also has more than thirteen years of dance under his belt, with tap being his favorite style. 

Megan R. Nelson

MEGAN R. NELSON (COMPANY): Megan’s previous stage work includes Beauty and the Beast Jr. and Sweet Charity. Offstage, she also enjoys painting, nerding out over pop culture, and advocating for the LGBTQ+ community and women’s rights. 

Kaleb Vaughn

KALEB VAUGHN (COMPANY): Kaleb did a variety of shows throughout middle and high school and has recently decided to pursue acting as a career. He plans to graduate with his associate’s degree from Western Nevada College this year and transfer to Western Washington University to double major in theater and public health science. 

Baylee M. Spear

BAYLEE M. SPEAR (COMPANY): Baylee has been performing since they were 3, their first show was The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe as a baby beaver with Wild Horse Children’s Theater. Their most recent show was Heathers, where they got the honor of being Martha Dunstock. They are pursuing a career in health care with their end goal being a master’s degree in nursing to ensure that women and trans individuals can have proper access to quality health care. 

Jessica Grimaldo

JESSICA GRIMALDO (Company): Jessica Grimaldo was recently the producer and casting director of the film, The Devil’s Children and is currently working on its sequel, The Flock. This is her first show with Wild Horse Productions Her 3-year-old daughter, Rowan, is already showing signs of being a theater kid. 

Nadia Hill

NADIA HILL (COMPANY): Nadia was raised in a community of artists and has an intense obsession for the performing arts. Some of her favorite roles have been being a part of the dance troupe in Newsies, the Acrobat in Matilda and, most recently, Tamatoa in Moana Jr. This is her last show in Carson City, as she is graduating high school and  will be attending college out of state.

Tickets are on sale now for RENT, which will have seven showtimes beginning Thursday, March 3. You can find your tickets here. https://whproductions.ludus.com/index.php?show_id=14727 


Kelsey Penrose found her way into journalism by harassing her first editor for six straight months until he finally broke down and gave her a job. Kelsey is an alumna of Arizona State University, holding BAs in English Literature and Anthropology. She is currently pursuing an MA in Creative Writing with Sierra Nevada University. She lives and gardens in Washoe Valley. Support Kelsey’s work here.


Founded in 2020, the Sierra Nevada Ally is a self-reliant 501c3 nonprofit publication with no paywall, a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News, offering unique, differentiated reporting and explanatory journalism on the environment, conservation, and public policy, while giving voice to writers, filmmakers, visual artists, and performers. We rely on the generosity of our readers and aligned partners.