(It’s another 2 blog posts week!)
Last week was the 20th anniversary of Rent opening on Broadway and I, like so many others, am a huge fan, so I thought I would take the chance to talk about this much-loved show and my experiences with it!
I first experienced Rent after the movie had already been out for a while. I think this was also quite near the beginning of my musical obsession. I remember renting the movie from Roger’s Video, when I was finding out more about musicals and Broadway and watching more movie musicals (something which I’m still always looking to do). I have since lost track of how many times I’ve seen the movie; it is one of my favourite movie musicals, if not my favourite. The “Filmed Live on Broadway” version has also gotten some wear on it. (I also LOVE that there is a “Filmed Live on Broadway” version!!!)
I have been fortunate enough to see Rent live twice, though, unfortunately, never on Broadway. I think the first time I saw it was in 2008 when it played at the Sony Centre in Toronto. (I had to look it up trying to find when it played there and I have to say it’s not really an easy show to google, particularly when you can rent space at the theatre!). The cast of this tour included Jed Resnick as Mark and Heinz Winckler as Roger. I absolutely loved seeing it live! I remember really like the set, with the “Christmas tree” and the use of the space. I’ll admit I did not “moo” with Maureen that time (I was too self-conscious).
The second time I saw the show was when “The Broadway Tour” starring Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal came to the Canon/Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto in 2010. Getting to see those two in the roles they had originated, and played in the movie, was an incredible experience and it still makes me happy to think about it. It also still adds a level of excitement to listening to the cast recordings, both OBC and movie. (And I did “moo” this time, albeit, quietly!)
I remember one particular moment that hit me the first time I saw Rent live. It was during “Life Support” at the line “because reason says I should’ve died three years ago.” In the movie as Gordon is singing and you can hear another voice come in for that line, but I didn’t really understand why. Onstage, though, while Gordon is singing, it’s Roger who joins in for that line; you see him onstage join in. Suddenly that “random” voice in the movie made more sense and it made that line/scene hit even harder because I hadn’t been expecting it. It still gets me pretty much every time, that and the end of “Contact” with everyone saying, “It’s over,” and Collins’s final, “It’s over.”
I love both the movie and the live production and I do feel that, as far as movie adaptations go, Rent is pretty darn good, especially when it comes to casting! I do wish they had kept the second half of “Goodbye Love” in the movie though. At least it’s in the deleted scenes! I also really enjoy “Christmas Bells” in the musical, but I can understand why it’s excluded from the movie.
The more I’ve learned about Rent and Jonathan Larson, the more love and respect I have for it and him and everything the show and its writer have done. I still love learning new things about the show and everyone involved with it.
This show (especially the movie) introduced me to so many more excellent actors as well, such as Anthony Rapp. I even went on to read his book/autobiography Without You and saw his one-man show of the same title, based on the book, when it came to Toronto as part of the “Off-Mirvish” season a few years ago. I love how each new musical opens up this whole world of possibilities, even from the fan perspective, like inspiring you to look up other things the actors have done, other things the creative team have done, and opening your mind up to different styles of musical theatre or theatre in general.
In January of this year, I attended BroadwayCon (there will likely be a post coming up about this whole event in the near future) and there was a Rent anniversary panel, “10,514,880 Minutes: How Do You Measure 20 Years of Rent?”. The panel included Anthony Rapp (who also acted as moderator), Daphne Rubin-Vega, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Rodney Hicks, Fredi Walker-Browne, Aiko Nakasone, Barnard Telsey, Marlies Yearby, James C. Nicola, Julie Larson McCollum, and Cynthia O’Neal. It was one of the highlights of the convention for me! And then Daphne called Jesse L. Martin via FaceTime and it was wonderful! Hearing all of those people talk about the show- their connections to it, how they became involved, sharing stories about the show and Jonathan- it was amazing! Rent has meant so much to so many people, those who have been involved with the show and it’s various incarnations over the years and the fans, for the 20 years now. It was so cool to be in a room with with people who were there from the beginning and filled with I don’t even know how many fans! I’m so glad I got to be there for that! It’s certainly an experience I won’t forget!
Rent really did make a huge impact on the industry. Hearing how the show and Jonathan Larson have influenced other successful shows and people in the industry, like Lin Manuel Miranda for instance, it shows the power that musicals and the theatre can, and do, have. Rent opened up so many more possibilities for the world of musical theatre and I think we can all be grateful for that!
Thank you Jonathan Larson.
No Day But Today!