They’re everywhere, I’m sure you’ve seen them. I’m one of them and so are all the principals in White Tuxedo’s production of RENT, tailor-made for Charleston. We are “yankees.” (But please don’t call us that in public. It hurts our feelings.)  These Yankees have been in the Lowcountry for over a month rehearsing the Broadway play that deals with taboo topics like AIDS and drag queens.

Umbrellas dotted Lamboll Street Saturday night as invitees anxious to catch a sneak peak and some face time with the cast braved the rain and flocked to a private party hosted by Bob and Karen Siegel at their home. In true South of Broad style, the Siegels provided tasty hors d’oeuvres, a wine and beer bar, and a grand piano played by music director Robbi Kenney.

At intervals throughout the night, the cast (which is comprised of ensemble members from Charleston) belted out hits like, “La Vie Boheme” and “Seasons of Love,” and the crowd went wild. A bowl, a rather fancy one, stood prominently awaiting generous donations of party patrons to the Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA) and the Roper St. Francis Ryan White Foundation.

The cast, which is mercilessly cooped up in a gorgeous Folly Beach house Real World-style, performs at the Charleston Music Hall Jan. 21 through Feb. 14. And yes, there is an in-house romance, but that’s all the juice I could squeeze from these actors.

Juan Tamarit — who casually mentioned he started a little company called Orbitz — has taken a personal interest in their publicity and success. “We’re trying to get more of this type of thing down here!” he said, alluding to NYC musical theater entertainment. It would appear that fellow Charlestonians (even the northern kind) agree. There was an outpouring of enthusiasm, support, interest, and wine at this party of arts fans.