BOSTON ? Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning revolutionary rock opera “RENT” tells the story of a group of unconventional friends struggling to express themselves through their art. Set against the gritty backdrop of New York’s East Village, this group of bohemians strive for success and acceptance while enduring poverty, illness and the AIDS epidemic.When “RENT” returns to Boston Jan. 8 through 13 at Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre, “South African Idol” winner Heinz Winckler, a native of South Africa, will portray Roger Davis- an aspiring songwriter who has emotionally shut down after his girlfriend’s suicide.?I just love working with the cast. They are awesome people,” Winckler said. “It is one of the most talented casts I’ve ever seen and it’s a privilege to be a part of this show.”Inspired by Puccini’s classic opera “La Boheme,” “Rent” won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Obie Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, four Tony Awards and three Drama Desk awards.?RENT” is the story of struggling artists with baggage trying to make it in New York.Winckler said “RENT” is entertaining, emotional and has a profound effect on people as it wrestles with?To people who have never seen it- you have to see it,” he said. “It’s a great show musically and emotionally. It can change your life.”Winckler also had this piece of advice for people who are going to see it for the first time.?It moves very fast in the beginning,” he said. “Listen closely to what Mark says at the beginning of the show.”If you’ve already seen “RENT”, Winckler said this touring production has an amazing cast.?People will fall in love with the show all over again,” he said.Winckler said his favorite parts of the show are his solo numbers and the large production numbers “Rent” and “La Boheme.”?Those are a real group effort,” he said. “We all kind of go crazy on stage.”Winckler was the winner of the first South African Idol in 2002 and the fourth place finalist in the 2003 inaugural World Idol competition. On stage, Winckler played Tony in the Toronto production of “West Side Story.” He has recorded three hit albums with Sony BMG, including: “One Step Closer”, “Come Alive” and “Moment of Truth.” Winckler has received the People Magazine Award for “Hottest Hunk” and was also featured in Cosmopolitan’s “Sexy Man Calendar.”Winckler said he is very excited about performing in Boston for the first time.?I’ve heard a lot about the city,” he said. “I’m seen it in movies and am looking forward to seeing it in person. I wanted to see a Red Sox game but it’s not baseball season so I might check out a hockey game.”?RENT” plays at the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre Jan. 8 through Jan. 13. Tickets are priced at $65.00, $55.00, $45.00, and $35.00 for all performances. Tickets are available at the Citi Performing Arts Center Box Office, online at www.citicenter.org, or by calling 800-447-7400.