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But on Friday the first act was noticeably bumpy, with sound snafus and uncooperative lighting compounding an already blurry stage picture.Blocking is an advanced art, and Harris, still a novice as a director, had trouble negotiating an amphitheater so cavernous that not even those in prime seats could easily resist the lure of the giant screens flanking the stage.

His mission here: To guide the diverse blend of talent from all over the entertainment map into paying homage to the gift that composer, lyricist and book-writer Jonathan Larson left to the world before dying tragically just prior to his work’s 1996 off-Broadway premiere.

On board were “High School Musical” sweetheart Vanessa Hudgens, Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger and star-in-the-making Aaron Tveit, who was part of the original Broadway ensemble of “Next to Normal.” My God, even game show jester Wayne Brady was in the mix, revealing the impressive vocal chops that earned him a Grammy nomination and could one day open the door to a new theatrical career were he ever to lose his lucrative “Let’s Make a Deal” day job.

Harris can do almost anything in my book, but he wasn’t able to figure out the spatial and logistical challenges of mounting a full-scale musical at the Bowl.

Admittedly, this is a feat that could make the triple axel of figure skating seem like child’s play.

of rock musicals, “Rent” has comfortably settled into its doyen status.

This “La Bohème”-inspired tale of poor East Village artists, addicts, activists and AIDS sufferers continues to touch audiences even though the subject matter for the show’s legion of young suburban fans must now seem as distant as that of tubercular waifs in 19th century Paris.For three performances at the Hollywood Bowl this weekend, this Pulitzer Prize- and Tony-winning musical was celebrated in a production directed by a notable national tour alumnus of the show, Neil Patrick Harris, that versatile quintuple (or is it sextuple?) threat who might as well hold the monopoly on award-show emceeing.As Mark, the striving filmmaker donning that signature (and so easily parodied) “Rent” scarf, Skylar Astin didn't do more than fill the nebishy outline of the role that won Harris acclaim when he performed it at the Ahmanson in 1997.Originally played by Anthony Rapp on Broadway, the character serves as a kind of ambassador between the audience and the world of the musical.Mark is perhaps the most iconic figure in "Rent," and Astin, possibly showing too much respect, shied away from uniquely personalizing him.

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