This is one of my oldest fandoms, I think. It dates back to high school. I dated a real asshole that I hope I never see again, because if I do I would probably end up arrested for beating the ever living daylights out of him. (Ahem.)
Fortunately, something good came out of the relationship: a love of the musical Rent.
Now, since the movie has come out, there’s really no excuse if you’ve never heard of it before. The original cast was amazing, with people like Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs, Jesse L Martin, and a host of others. Many famous and infamous people were in it on Broadway, until it closed down in 2008 (I think I saw it three times total on Broadway. So lucky to have seen it at the Nederlander.) It has since been slated to reopen off-Broadway this year and I am thrilled about that. Despite it showing its age just slightly, it really is a timeless story.
Basically, it’s a rock opera loosely based on La bohème, set in the Alphabet City/Bohemian area of NYC in the 80s/90s, when AIDS was just starting to become known as AIDS. It discusses literally everything you can think of in the film – from sex (both vanilla and S&M), to lesbians, to being gay, to being straight, to fighting life, to fighting for life, to fighting for love, to follow your heart, follow your bliss, follow your dreams, to sticking together, to learning how to live life to it’s fullest.
There is tragedy tied to the musical, as the amazing, brilliant talent known as Jonathan Larson was cruelly taken by an aortic aneurysm the day the show was set to debut off Broadway – January 25, 1996. The first preview was cancelled and all of his friends, family, castmates did a sing through in his memory that night. (I can’t even fathom.)
The production was nominated for ten Tony Awards in 1996 and won four: Best Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (Heredia for Angel).
It is one of my favorite musicals (along with Working, Wicked, and on a lesser scale, Les Mis and Phantom).
The music is incredible, it is absolutely a blast to sing along to (when I was younger I really thought I’d be a great Mimi. As time goes on, I realize how much more I am Maureen.)
I would probably talk about and sing this incessantly, but I’ll just leave a video that will do better than I could ever try to.
This is the original cast, and if you get a chance, listen to the original cast recording before you see the movie (if you haven’t done both). There are differences, but the movie did very well to hearken the original.
And by any means, if you’re in NYC, go visit New World Stages and see it. If it doesn’t change your life in some way, I will be amazed.