When I was 14, I used to sleep on the street outside the Shubert Theatre in Boston to get front or second row rush seats for the bohemian "rock opera" Rent. My sister and I listened to the entirety of the original cast recording every night. I was a fan. Though, 10 years later, I wasn't really sad to hear that the show would be closing in June. It was about time. Some of the music, once so thrilling and new, now felt creaky. Plus, the dreadful film made a pretty convincing case that the material is painfully dated. I was OK. But then I read the new, lengthy retrospective on EW.com and that familiar, crazed Renthead swoon came creeping back.
There are all of my old friends (Jesse! Anthony! Daphne!) offering new insights, making me remember what was so exciting and different and defining about the show in the first place. I think I'll mourn its passing after all. The possibility of just going and getting a cheap ticket for the hell of it is slipping away. And, though certainly meriting some scrutiny, it was important. As Anthony Rapp (Mark) says of the show: "It validated the idealistic part of me." And that, in these times of snark and brittle insincerity, is certainly saying something. [EW] Below, find a grainy, glorious video of the original cast at the 1996 (!) Tony's.