Opening day may still be two months away for theatre-goers attending the Stratford Festival, but on Tuesday, the first meeting for the cast and crew was held for the highly anticipated production of “Rent.”

Thom Allison is the director of the production. As a veteran of the stage, he has a good idea of what he is doing and it’s not his first time directing the play.

“The thing about ‘Rent’ is that it keeps coming back into my life. I did the original Canadian production 25 years ago, and then I did it again about 15 years later, I think,” he said.

Allison said on Tuesday, the cast and crew were able to see what the show is going to look like for the first time.

“It feels for all of us like it’s just really starting because we get to see what it looks like, [and] we get to envision what it really is,” Allison said. “The cast has been doing some music so far, they’re doing the score, but this is the first time we get to see what the show looks like.”

Allison said “Rent” is a classic, and believes its messages of love and inclusion are particularly important right now.

“It’s a cautionary tale, I think. It's interesting that “Rent” comes around right now to remind us again, the compassion we can have for each other, that every person needs to matter for us to actually survive as a society,” Allison said.

Among the cast is Kolton Stewart playing Roger, who is returning to the festival after making his debut 15 years ago when he was just 8 years old.

“It’s really a full circle moment to be back at the same theatre in ‘Rent.’ It’s really exciting,” Stewart said.

For Stewart, a role in “Rent” is a dream come true.

“I get to play guitar on stage, which is a dream. I love to play music and play guitar and sing, so the fact that I can do all of this in one show is just a dream come true,” Stewart said.

He added it’s exciting this may some people in the audience’s first time seeing the play.

“That's truly an honour,” Stewart said.

Making her Stratford debut is Andrea Mascaraet, who has been cast a Mimi.

“I took the role of “Rent” on because the music is too iconic to say no to,” said Mascaraet. “I grew up singing ‘Rent.’”

Mascaraet comes to Stratford after making her Broadway debut playing a leading role in the Tony Award-winning play “Six.”

“Mimi is so powerful and empowering. I think she is a woman who knows exactly who she is, and she is bold and unafraid, and those are the characteristics that I love to lean into,” said Mascaraet.

Also making their Stratford debut is Nestor Lozano Jr as Angel.

“Stratford’s so magical, and so this musical is such an important story to tell because it's come from all walks of life,” said Lozano. “I'm just excited to be celebrating queerness.”

Tuesday is just the start for the cast and crew who will take to the stage on April 8 for an already sold-out performance.

A full list of productions at this year’s Stratford Festival is available here.