Over the next two weekends, the Center Stage Theater will perform “Rent” on an outdoor stage at the Midland Center for the Arts.

The rock musical’s show times are at 8 p.m. August 4-6 and August 11-12.

The actors will take the audience through “a year in the life” of struggling artists in New York City from 1989 to 1990. While navigating relationships, finding each other and building their careers, the band also deal with the effects of the AIDS epidemic on their community.

The lead pair said the main messages of the show are to love, understand and support each other.

“None of these characters would be where they are without the support of their friends,” said Connor Wieland, who plays Mark’s character. “It’s about keeping your loved ones close and really cherishing those bonds.”

Mark is a documentary filmmaker who captures the lives of his group of friends on film as they go through different transformations.

“He’s always there, he’s always watching,” Wieland said of his character.

Visit the Midland Center for the Arts website for more ticket information.

He said the actors worked with a playwright, whose responsibility it was to analyze the knowledge and story behind the scripts, ensuring the production remained true to the period.

“(The playwright) gave us a massive package of definitions, treatment options for HIV (and) AIDS at the time,” Wieland said. “(She) gave us a really deep dive into what life was like back then, and (what it was like) to have to go through that.”

Megan Meyer plays Maureen, a performance artist whom the actress describes as “flamboyant” and “flashy.”

“There are so many references that you probably wouldn’t know unless you really researched them, unless you lived in New York in the 80s,” Meyer said. “They mention old clubs that were popular with the gay community that no longer exist.”

As an actress with 25 years of stage experience, this is Meyer’s second time playing the role of Maureen: And she’s not the only one with “Rent” experience.

Director Chad William-Baker helmed another production of “Rent” in 2016. This time, Baker said he took less inspiration from the Broadway production and instead collaborated with the cast to create a new version. a spectacle.

“This show connects people very quickly,” he said. “There were some really tough casting decisions, but I think looking at the chemistry between people was really key to that.”

The production team aimed to keep the set to a minimum by using stairs and scaffolding to mimic the industrial urban environment of New York City.

“I think it brought to mind a lot of places in New York, where the show moves very quickly through every place,” William-Baker said.

Although he’s never conducted a show outdoors, William-Baker said the elements add a kind of authentic “roughness” to “Rent.” If there is rain in the forecast during any of the sessions, the production team has reserved Sunday evening as the “rainy date” for contingencies.

Meyer encourages people to come see the show, which she says is moving but also highlights the moments of joy.

“Come laugh, come cry, come swing,” Meyer said. “They’re going to get it all here at ‘Rent’. They’re going to have adult content, but they’re also going to have real moments that they probably don’t know they need.

There will also be free pre-show talks on Saturday, August 6 and Thursday, August 11 at 7 p.m. During these talks, the director and cast, along with members of Shelterhouse and Gays, Lesbians and Allys at Dow (GLAD), will discuss among themselves the topics covered in the musical.