She spent the Rent here but there's always Tamara
By: Rita Zekas
Play misty-eyed for me. Last Tuesday was Tamara Podemski's last Rent day. Next a.m., she was Broadway bound, off to New York to reprise her role as Mrs. Cohen and to understudy the role of Maureen.

And they were giving her a big and teary send-off at The Red Devil BBQ & Tavern, on Duncan St., right around the corner from Rent's home base, the Royal Alex.

There were no vacancies. The place was packed.

Some of Podemski's former cast-mates from The Rez were on hand, including Ryan Black, in his newly shorn hair; her sister Jennifer; and Tamara's fellah, Darrell Dennis.

And just so she wouldn’t forget where she was coming from, her father presented her with the official Roots Olympic hat, worn by everyone from snowboarder Ross Rebagliati to Prince Charles to Prince Mel.

"I'm not ever being mistaken for an American," she vowed.

Yeah, well, they've opened up a Roots store in N.Y.C.

Chad Richardson (who plays Mark) came up and gave her a big hug.

Everyone was giving her big hugs. Vigorous big hugs.

These people are performers. They do everything over the top. Podemski would undoubtedly go home dented.
Her sister kept tearing up.

Tamara admitted to feeling verklempt herself. She thought she was going to make it through the performance without getting choked up. She was okay until she saw the sign.
"Some Rentheads had brought a banner and held it up. It said, 'Goodbye Tamara, we'll miss you.' Then things started to get sad."
And soggy.

Podemski was skedded to be at a New York rehearsal next day at 1 p.m., and would go on for the first time on Friday. And she'd see at least one familiar face. Luther Creek, who played Roger in Toronto, went back to New York to reprise his role in the Broadway production.

She insisted that she's not New York savvy.

"I've only been to New York on a weekend, I just went to Broadway to see a show."

You think?

She is staying with a friend while looking for an apartment in person.

"I don't trust those 'large and clean' ads."

Podemski was taken aback when she got the siren call for New York.

"It was my dream come true, the most shocking thing in my life. I had a near heart attack. My agent called up and said the New York producer offered me my role on Broadway. I thought it was the worst joke ever. It was so farfetched."

Especially since Rent is her first singing gig. Nine mothers ago, she was hired on as a Rental.

Seven months ago, she was mugging with a cigar during a Sappy Patter photo op at Rent's opening night party.

Now she's on Broadway.

"It's absolutely impossible," she marveled. "I've never had a singing job, nobody ever gave me a second glance about singing. I was content making a nice home here in the film and TV industry--the musical world was never something I could hope to aspire to."

Still, she studied voice.

"I studied everything. Now I can go back to those people who said I couldn't carry a tune…"

She's carrying herself all the way to New York.

And she's not exactly going empty-handed. She's taking her sister, "who will try to do what she does here."

And her beau, Darrell Dennis.

Who will presumably do what he does for her here.