There's a reason "Rent" has been gracing theatre stages for more than two decades. The show's plot, a tale of early 1990s Bohemia life in New York City's East Village, relies on universally understood themes of love, friendship, and survival. The tale of eight creatives and artists living in the midst of the American HIV/AIDS crisis, navigating their relationships while dreaming of the future resonated with audiences immediately, ultimately taking it to Broadway and later, to international productions in Europe and beyond.
The Expansive Production Schedule of "Rent"
"Rent" has travelled all over the world, staging shows all over the United States, as well as in Mexico, Japan, Australia, Spain, and England. The next production will see the play headed to America's southern states of Texas, Florida, and Tennessee, before jumping to the United Kingdom to stage shows in High Wycombe's Swan Theatre and in London's St. James Theatre. Later, it will return to the States, where the cast will perform in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Boston, and Washington D.C., among other cities.
The Origins of the Hit Play "Rent"
Written by playwright Billy Aronson with music by Jonathan Larson (who was himself a struggling artist), "Rent" is loosely based on Puccini's famed "La Bohème" opera. The play's plot focuses on the life paths of eight individuals: Roger, an HIV-positive singer-songwriter; Mimi, an HIV-positive exotic dancer; Maureen, a performance artist who is bisexual; Joanne, a lawyer who is a lesbian; Collins, a part-time, HIV-positive anarchist New York University professor; Mark, a film-maker; Angel, a drag queen and percussionist who is HIV-positive; and Benny, a landlord and former roommate of several other cast members. As the show's plot progresses, those with "Rent" tickets find that several of the main characters are intertwined in more complicated ways than initially appeared, and, more grievously, how living with HIV and AIDS effects one's life and relationships.
The play's emotional subject matter and electric musical numbers eventually made the work a hit. It earned four Tony Awards, six Drama Desk Awards, and a Pulitzer for Drama as an off-Broadway production (all in 1996), and went on to become one of the longest-running productions in the history of musicals. In 2005, after achieving immense success on stage, the story was adapted into a film, starring many of the production's Broadway stars, as well as newcomers Rosario Dawson (as Mimi) and Taye Diggs (as Benny). Since then, as its legacy is now cemented in pop culture, it continues to entertain new audiences again and again.
The "Rent" Music Experience
The music of "Rent" proceeded its stage; while many have seen a production of the musical, many more have now heard the now iconic anthem "Seasons of Love", a vibrant work that celebrates a "year in the life of friends". Those with "Rent" tickets will surely recognise the number, and may also find that other songs from the play are equally familiar, including chorus song "La Vie Bohème", and Mimi's sultry "Out Tonight".
More Shows Like "Rent"
After seeing the hit show "Rent", musical fans should see the opera on which it's based, "La Bohème", or another smash play, "Book of Mormon".
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