Has Rent Aged Well?

In 1996, the Rock musical, Rent, came to the Nederlander Theater on Broadway. It was based of the tragic opera, La Bohème, which is a tragic love story between Rodolfo and Mimi. It has become of the successful musicals. It centers around the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Rent deals with a lot of controversial topics such as the LGBT community and a drug addict. Tragically, Johnathon Larson, the composer of the musical, died the day before the first preview, but his legacy lives on in the musical.

It has been debated whether or not Rent has aged well or not. I fell in love with Rent September of 2012 by songs alone. In my opinion, Rent has aged well. Just because the HIV/AIDS epidemic is long gone, it doesn’t mean it hasn’t aged well. Don’t forget, last year, we started being in the middle of a pandemic—so it does connect to that. Its message of living in the moment and living life in love is still relevant. Same with the other controversial topics. As a matter of fact, I actually can relate to the characters of Rent- yes, I don’t have HIV, but have Epilepsy. True, not the same thing, but the struggles are similar- as in the stresses, the anxiety, and the fear. I can understand what they are going through.

Just like Les Mis, I am an emotional wreck in Rent. Rent actually led me to wanting to see La Bohème. I originally started with seeing the Met’s live stream of the opera in cinemas- and eventually saw the opera in person. La Bohème was the final show I saw in 2020- it was through Opera Carolina.

Unexpected Struggling Characters

What exactly do I mean by this? Yes, several of my favorite musical theatre characters struggle. There are some characters that do exist that barley manage to survive. There are characters that exist that almost didn’t survive. What if I talked about some of my favorite characters that almost didn’t make it? So SPOILERS ahead.

Marius

He is the first character that comes to mind. Marius was one of the revolutionaries. He almost didn’t survive not once, but twice. He was saved not once, but twice. First, he was saved by Eponine (she took a bullet for him) and second, he was rescued by Jean Valjean (he literally went to the barricades to rescue him because his adopted daughter loves him). Jean Valjean literally loves Cosette so much that he would risk his life to save the man she loves. Marius is actually the only survivor of the barricade, which causes him to have survivor’s guilt.

Mimi

Mimi is the most fragile and vulnerable character in Rent. During Finale and Your Eyes, it appears as if Mimi is extremely weak and dying. This is the hardest on Roger because he loves her. However, Mimi wakes up and turns out she actually is going to live.

Simba

Yes, this does sound a bit unusual. However, in a ton of ways it makes sense. It is obvious that his uncle Scar wants Simba killed. Simba barley escapes death during the stampede and then later when Simba fights his uncle to gain his right to be king, it does seem as if Simba might be killed again. However, Scar loses the fight and Simba gains his right to be King.

Elsa/Anna

Well, Elsa was almost killed by Hans, but was saved when Anna sacrificed herself to save her sister. But at the time, Anna was freezing to death (meaning turning into an ice statue). However, what she did to help her sister was an act of true love, which saved both Elsa and Anna.

What other characters do you know that almost died?

Rent Final Broadway Cast Film

While Broadway may be black, theatre is still alive. Theater traces its roots to Ancient Greece. Since, there are been multiple pandemics, but still stays alive. While some tours are being postponed or cancelled, and The West End and Broadway are dark, there is still ways to see musicals. The most obvious comes from the musical movies: Sound of Music, Singing in the Rain, My Fair Lady, Greatest Showman, Mamma Mia, Live Action Aladdin, Live Action Beauty and the Beast, and Les Mis: examples. There is one more type of musical: the actual concerts and filmed stage shows. I own some of those: Les Mis’ 10th and 25th concert, Phantom of the Opera’s 25th special, and the final Rent Broadway Cast film.

Well, this post will specifically talk about the Rent Final Broadway Cast. I first fell in love with the musical Fall 2012. I don’t know how I discovered the musical, but think it was through Pandora. Ever since, I wanted to see the stage show, but the first version I would see of Rent is the Final Broadway Cast film. Rent is meaningful to me due to the message it conveys: live in the moment and in love. In some ways, I think the musical is relevant especially now. Rent takes place during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but now we are in the middle of the Corona Pandemic. We can’t let fear get in the way- but love. It is more important than ever to live in the moment and in love.

Yes, while Rent is controversial, it is truly a celebration of life. Four of the major characters (Roger, Mimi, Angel, and Collins) have HIV. Then you have bisexual Maureen, Lesbian Joanne, and gay Angel and Collins. Mimi is a struggling drug addict. Roger is dealing with depression at the beginning of the musical, but Mimi helps him break out of his shell. See what I mean: tough topics and controversial. However, they show us how precious life is and the importance of living in the moment and in love.

With versions like this Rent Film, we are still able to see shows unfold in front of our eyes. So, theater will never be dead—-we still have a way to show musical theatre. There are the filmed staged shows that we have access to. We will eventually climb out of the pandemic and get back to seeing musicals live. As many musical theatre fans know, there is nothing like the power of live theater. It is frustrating, annoying, and disappointing that they are at a stop now.

I had to put up with both Anastasia and Frozen being postponed—so have to wait even longer. Well, I waited five years to see the stage show of Rent so if that was worth it, so will be the reopening of live musicals.

I saw the stage show in September 2017 at Belk Theater. Five years worth the wait. Due to how close Gardner Webb was to Charlotte, I was able to go home for a weekend to see Rent. Gardner Webb is in the middle of nowhere, but about one hour away from Charlotte.

Songs Connected to Friendship

As a continuation of yesterday’s post, I decided to make a list of musical theatre songs that are connected to friendship. Friendship is one of the types of love that seems to be overlooked. Even some of the friendships are underrated, in my opinion. Some of them may not seem like they are related to friendship, but in my eyes they are.

  1. High Adventure
  2. Omar, Babkak, Aladdin, Kassim
  3. What is This Feeling
  4. Popular
  5. One Short Day
  6. For Good
  7. Red and Black
  8. Do You Hear the People Sing
  9. Drink With Me
  10. A Little Fall of Rain
  11. Santa Fe (Prologue)
  12. Carrying the Banner
  13. The World Will Know
  14. Seize the Day
  15. King of New York
  16. Once and For All
  17. La Vie Boheme
  18. Goodbye Love
  19. Finale B

Fox Rent Live (Or was It)

Rent is a musical that is hard to confess that I love it. That is due to its controversial topics such as the LGBT community, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and drugs. When I heard that Fox was doing a live typing of it, of course I wanted to see it. It wasn’t exactly a live typing because during a dress rehearsal, the Roger broke his foot- so they had to do a lot of prerecorded stuff- but I still loved it despite that. It has a message that is hard to ignore- live in the moment and choose love over fear. Don’t forget, this takes place during the HIV/AIDS epidemic where the virus was basically a death sentence- there was a lot of fear and uncertainty during the time period, but again and again, the characters choose love over fear and decided to celebrate live and despite the fear they had, they lived their lives in loves (how can you ignore that message).

This was my 3rd Rent cast- so far, I had the final Broadway cast (due to the film they did), the US Tour 2017, and the Fox Cast. I love Rent- so I already knew I would enjoy it- so it would get at least a 3/5 rating. Right from the beginning, I fell in love with the Mark and Roger.

I did not really see how talented the Roger was until “One Song Glory”. That was his first moment to really shine. As a matter during fact, “One Song Glory”, (I believe) Roger almost made me cry. This typically doesn’t happen on T.V. versions of Rent. The only other Roger where this happened was Kaleb Wells, my 2nd Roger, which makes sense because I saw him in person. He does need to work well with Mimi, which I will talk more about in my section about Mimi. His version of “Your Eyes” made me cry- that song is a moment that always makes me tear up. Rent affects me in almost the same way that Les Mis does, but in less scenes.

Enter Mimi. Roger and Mimi are my favorite couple in Rent- I think it is because they are to me a very realistic couple- they are problematic at times- they fight at times, but at the same time do love each other. My favorite by far is my first Mimi (so this Mimi had a lot to live up to). As a matter of fact, I really loved her. This Mimi really started to shine during “Out Tonight”- after all it is her title song; she also has to have incredible chemistry with Roger. I could tell that both Roger and Mimi are attracted to each other, but at the same time, Roger did not want to be in a relationship with her. This was especially shown in “Another Day”. I did love the chemistry in “I Should Tell You”- that is one of their strongest moments as a couple.

MAJOR SPOILERS:

Angel and Collins- I loved them. I loved their “I’ll Cover You”. They are the ones who are the least problematic of all three couples. They just seemed to live their lives in this songs. I just loved seeing this song performed. Then the “I’ll Cover You (Reprise) happened- I literally was almost in tears at that moment- Collins literally was upset at the death of Angel. One of the things I love about Angel was just how he (she)- I never know what pronoun to use- was just how generous Angel was.

I never know how to describe any Joanne. I don’t know why that is. I always know to describe Maureen. I always have “Over the Moon” just over the top- that is just who Maureen is- crazy- she literally is like that. Joanne on the other hand is fed up with her- they are just the most problematic couple- they are my least favorite couple all because of how problematic they are. I did love Vanessa Hudgens as Maureen- I may have originally seen her as Gabriella in the High School Musical series, but she does far well as Maureen especially in “Over the Moon”.

Now on to describe other songs. I always cry at “Will I” and “Without You”, and in this version they did. I even cried at the first Life Support meeting. I am quite emotionally affected by Rent- it is a sad musical, but it is so much more. I love the relationship these friends have- they are family. I love watching the bond- they do not get along at times, but they always make up.