Wednesday, Dec 12, 2018
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 36 YEARS!

click to visit advertiser's website



Last Weeks Edition
   
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
 

 

Speakeasy Speed Test

 
 
click to go to advertisers website
 
No day but today - A RENT history
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
  next story
No day but today - A RENT history

by Eric Andrews-Katz SGN Contributing Writer

RENT is the rock musical that started with humble beginnings and grew into a Pulitzer Prize-winning phenomenon. It is credited with changing the face of musical theater and introducing an entire new generation to Broadway. The show's story is as wondrous and tragic as its creation, bringing together death, love and glory as only musical theater and true life can parallel each other.

'Today for you! Tomorrow for me!'
The original story line goes back to Giacomo Puccini's opera La Bohéme, based on a novel by Henri Murger. The setting is the newly founded Bohemian lifestyle of the Latin Quarter and the avant-garde patrons of Paris in 1830. The storyline deals with a group of impoverished friends and lovers. Rodolfo is a starving poet living with Marcello, a painter. Rodolfo falls in love with Mimi, a tubercular seamstress. Other characters include: flirtatious Musetta (Marcello's on/off girlfriend), Alcindoro (Musetta's patron), Colline, a teacher, and a musician named Schunard. Together this group of outcasts and artists live life with all of its conflicts until Mimi finally succumbs to her illness.

'...that doesn't remind us of 'Musetta's Waltz'
Jonathan Larson had always loved Pucinni's opera. He started writing an updated version with more modern music. The characters migrated to the mid 1990s in New York's 'Alphabet City.' Rodolfo became Roger, an unemployed musician trying to find his 'One Great Song.' Marcello is now Marc, a documentary filmmaker. Mimi's name remained the same but her persona became a fiery Latina and her tuberculoses transformed into HIV/AIDS. Musetta and Alcindoro became Lesbian lovers Maureen and Joanne, respectively, while Collins is now an HIV-positive philosophy teacher with Schunard becoming Angel, his lover, an HIV + drag queen who plays the pickle-tub drum.

'Without You'
Jonathan made RENT a very personal experience when diverging from Bohéme's classic libretto. One of his girlfriends left him for another woman like Maureen leaves Marc. His first apartment had no buzzer and so he threw down his keys to let his friends in the door. In the song 'Life Support,' all the names mentioned were friends that he lost to HIV. On the evening before the night of the Off-Broadway premiere, Jonathan Larson died suddenly of an aortic aneurysm. His collapse on January 25, 1996 was unexpected for the 35-year-old artist, happening shortly after his only interview. The cast and crew canceled the evening's public preview, holding a staged reading of just the songs in honor of his family and friends. As the heavy oppressive silence enveloped the cast, an unidentified voice called out, 'Thank you, Jonathan Larson.' This simple sentiment would go on to become the dedication at the end of the film version of RENT.

'Viva La Vie Boheme!'
So what's the story of this musical sensation? (Spoilers ahead!) Its the last part of the century in New York's lower east side. Roger and Marc are squatters in a building they were told they could live rent-free. Their former roommate Benny is now their landlord after he married a wealthy woman. Another former roommate, Tom Collins, has returned to his friends only to be mugged before arriving. A drag queen named Angel takes Collins under his wing and they share their mutual attraction and HIV status - both are positive.

After Benny's threat of eviction, Marc runs off to help his former girlfriend with a public protest. Maureen dumped him for a new lover, Joanne. Maureen is extremely flirtatious. Joanne is very jealous and Marc is very amused. Roger meets his neighbor Mimi, an exotic dancer and drug addict. Roger, being a former user, at first shuns Mimi, but eventually falls under her spell. They discover that they both have the same secret: they, too, are HIV positive.

Over the next year, Maureen and Joanne have broken up and gotten back together, as have Roger and Mimi. Collins and Angel have remained together, but Angel has gotten sicker and at his eventual funeral, the group has a large fight and the friendships are tested. Friendship and love prove stronger than petty angers and egos when Mimi dies but returns to deliver the final message: Live life to the fullest, there's 'no day but today.'

'Is Anyone in the Mainstream?'
RENT made its world premiere at the New York Theater Workshop in 1994. Originally, it played for three weeks, and when the run was over, author/composer/lyricist Jonathan Larson continued to work on his project. The characters of Maureen and Joanne were expanded and shaped. Lyrics were changed, songs were cut and many new ones were added. Only two original workshop cast members, Anthony Rapp and Daphne Rueben Vega, would continue through the Broadway premier in January 1996.

The show moved to Broadway's Nederlander Theatre within four months of its Off-Broadway Premier. Previews began on April 16, 1996, with the official opening two weeks later. The results were instant. Ticket lines began to form almost immediately, creating a new fan base called 'Rent-heads.' When the show won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the show's fate was sealed as an undisputed smash hit. RENT eventually closed after more than 5,120 performances and took its place as one of the top 10 longest-running Broadway shows. During its tenure, it was nominated for a total of nine Drama Desk Awards, winning six including Outstanding Featured Actor (Wilson Jermaine Heredia) for 'Angel' and Outstanding Book of a Musical. It also became nominated for 10 Tony Awards, winning four, including another award for Mr. Heredia and for Best Musical of 1996.

After being considered by several other potential film directors (including Spike Lee and Rob Marshall), Chris Columbus took the project of the stage sensations transformation to silver screen. Trying to keep as much of the original intact, 80% of the Broadway cast were rehired with two exceptions. Pregnant Daphne Rubin Vega couldn't repeat the energy needed for 'Mimi,' and Rosario Dawson was cast. Fredi Walker-Browne declined to recreate 'Joanne' saying that she was too old to keep playing the part. After a brief consideration of Frenchie Davis, the coveted role went to Traci Thoms. Despite a large following and 17 different nominations, the film only won one award, the 2005 Satellite Award for Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role - Rosario Dawson.

What is the RENT legacy? The obvious ones are there: the awards of course and paving the way for future break-out shows; original cast members Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs met, fell in love and eventually married, and the show's posterity has accurately been preserved on celluloid. But it's more than that. It reminded us the basic importance of human compassion. It taught a new generation the beauty of caring for others and a new awareness for some of life's dangers. But most of all, it taught the world the difference between a season and a season of love.

Share on Facebook Share on Facebook

Post to MySpace!Share on MySpace!

SMC goes all a cappella
------------------------------
SGN Exclusive Interview: Comedy tour's Gay comedian ANT
------------------------------
Crypticon creepy and fun
------------------------------
The Offspring could do no wrong
------------------------------
Neko Case good, but not her best
------------------------------
Night Flight grounded
------------------------------
No day but today - A RENT history
------------------------------
American Primitive: A unique Queer love story
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
On the red carpet at 63rd Tony Awards
------------------------------
Pixar's Up is a sky-high masterwork
------------------------------
Land of the Lost hilarious and hella fun
------------------------------
SIFF enters last weekend
------------------------------
B-52s, JoBros, Staples all in June
------------------------------
Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
------------------------------

------------------------------
Lambert, Pet Shop Boys, GaGa
------------------------------
Northwest News
------------------------------

------------------------------
Trans dating adventures with my slave
------------------------------

------------------------------
Deep Inside Hollywood - Romeo San Vicente
------------------------------

------------------------------
Book Marks
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
Seattle Gay Blog post your own information on
the Seattle Gay Blog
 

http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml
SGN Calendar http://sgn.org/rssCalendar.xml
copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2009

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News