Musical Monday (#2) – – RENT

Hey guys. Welcome to Musical Mondays, a two part bi-monthly post. The first part focuses on a specific musical and the second part is about five storytelling songs.

This week is part one. This month’s musical focus is Rent, a rock musical taking place during the 90s New York City. Rent is one of my favorite musicals and encouraged me to discover more.

215px-Rent_movie_poster~The Background:~

Rent is a rock musical written by Jonathon Larson. Rent is based on La Puccini’s opera La Boheme. Each of the characters in Rent is based on one from La Boheme.  I would consider Rent to be a modernized version of La Boheme. Instead of Tuberculosis, some of Rent’s characters have HIV and Aids. Rent was first seen in 1994 during workshop performances. The musical performed off broadway in 1996.
Tragically enough, the night before Rent’s first off broadway performance, Jonathon Larson died of an aortic dissection possibly caused by Marian syndrome. Rent won a Pulitzer Prize and went to Broadway three months later in 1996.
In 2005, Rent was turned into a movie starring five out of eight members of the original Broadway Cast.
The last Broadway performance was in 2008.

~How I Discovered It:~
rent-roger-mimi-light-my-candle-square-w352
Light My Candle (Rent, Movie)
I was first exposed to Rent after buying the movie adaption at CD Tradepost years ago. Upon first trying to watch it I hadn’t been paying attention, so when I look back the characters are singing Light My Candle featuring Roger and Mimi. I remember thinking “What is going on here?” as Mimi had just come to Roger’s apartment going on about a candle. Then she came back after realizing she’d dropped her drugs. After really watching it, I fell in love with it. I later began listening to the Original Broadway Cast which included songs that were edited or not even in the movie version. It became my winter soundtrack for months. 🙂

~Cast:~

Movie Cast, starting from top left: Joanne (Tracie Thorns), Benny (Taye Diggs), Roger (Adam), Mimi (Rosario Dawson) Mark (Anthony), Maureen (Idina), Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia) and Collins (Jesse L. Thomas)
Rent focuses on the lives of eight characters.
  • Roger (Performed by Adam Pascal for the Original Broadway Cast)
    • A singer/songwriter who’s forgotten how to live.
    • Roger has gotten AIDS from his girlfriend who committed suicide.
  • Mark (Performed by Anthony Rapp for the Original Broadway Cast)
    • A film maker and Roger’s roommate.
    • He narrates the musical a bit.
  • Collins (Performed by Jesse L. Martin for the Original Broadway Cast)
    • A professor in New York as well as Roger and Mark’s ex roommate.
    • He has AIDS and is later Angel’s love interest.
  • Angel (Performed by Wilson Jermaine Heradia for the Original Broadway Cast)
    • A cross dressing, gay percussion street musician.
  • Benny (Performed by Taye Diggs for the Original Broadway Cast)
    • Roger, Mark’s, Maureen’s, and Collin’s ex roommate. He’s now a landlord for Roger and Mark’s apartment due to his girlfriend’s father.
  • Maureen (Performed by Idina Menzel for the Original Broadway Cast)
    • A performance artist, Mark’s ex, used to live with Mark, Collins and Benny.
  • Joanne (Performed by  Fredi Walker for the Original Broadway Cast)
    • A lawyer and Maureen’s girlfriend.
  • Mimi (Performed by Daphne Rubin-Vega for the Original Broadway Cast)
    • An exotic dancer at the Cat Scratch club and Roger’s love interest.

~Plot:~

The musical begins December 24th, 9 pm Eastern Standard Time in 1990. It opens up with Mark and Roger being told to pay rent or face being evicted by their ex roommate, now landlord, Benny. Prior to this watchers learn Roger’s ex girlfriend April has aids and killed herself. Benny shuts off the power leading to the first show-stoppoer, title song, “Rent”.
Besides the Rent plot, Mark and Roger face, there are several other plots. Roger wants to write a meaningful song before he dies and learns to live again despite having aids. There are other romance subplots such as Angel and Collins and Maureen and Joanne.
Rent is about six friends who are brought together. They struggle with paying rent, drugs, aids and living. In Rent there are several songs referring to trying again and living life to it’s fullest. There’s romance, humor, drama, friendship, and tragedy. Did I mention tragedy? I recommend watching the movie by yourself because you’re probably going to cry.

~Favorite Character(s)~

Daphne and Adam
My favorite characters are Roger and Mimi. Both of the characters have notable flaws. Roger’s being he doesn’t want to get attached to Mimi. Mimi does drugs and has an unexpected past. Roger’s very relatable because after getting AIDS and his girlfriend killed herself, he shuts off from the world which is understandable. Because of this when he first meets Mimi, he’s turned off by her doing drugs. I thought Roger and Mimi were both good for each other. While Mimi helped Roger with dealing with AIDS, he helped her get clean.

~Favorite Moments~

  • One of my favorite moments is when Angel, Collins, and Mark attend a Life Group meeting for people dealing with Aids and HIV. One of the other attendees tells everyone that they’re not necessarily happy that their T cells are low because he’s still fearful. During Life Group, they sing the song Life Support with the other attendees.

  • Another of my favorite moments is  the song Will I which happens at the next Life Support meeting which Roger happens to attend. In this song the characters are wondering if they’ll lose their dignity or if anyone will care when they die.
  • Christmas Bells is one of my favorite songs because it contains all of the characters. I would consider this song to be the biggest show-stopper in Rent. Angel and Collins are finding Collins a new shirt. Roger and Mark are talking about the aftermath of “Another Day”. We see Mimi with other people looking to get drugs from a dealer. Benny calls his girlfriend Allison asking which investor is going to the protest that night. He finds out it’s his girlfriend’s dad. Roger and Mimi end up talking to each other again. Towards the end Maureen asks Joanne where the stage is.
Christmas Bells
  • I love Happy New Year B when everyone breaks into Roger and Mark’s after Benny padlocks the door.

~Musical Style~

Rent is primarily a rock musical, but there are a few slower songs and a tango.

~Key Songs~

  • One Song Glory
    • Sung by Roger
Find one song
One last refrain
Glory
From the pretty boy front man
Who wasted opportunity

 

  • Out Tonight
    • Sung by Mimi
So let’s find a bar
So dark we forget who we are
And all the scars of the never
And maybe’s die

 

  • Another Day
    • Sung by Roger primarily and Mimi
The heart may freeze or it can burn
The pain will ease if I can learn
There is no future
There is no past
I live this moment as my last
There’s only us
There’s only this
Forget regret
Or life is yours to miss
No other road
No other way
No day but today

 

  • Without You
    • Sung by Roger and Mimi
The stars gleam,
the poets dream,
the eagles fly,
without you
the earth turns
the sun, burns
but I die without you

 

  • Halloween
    • Sung by Mark and Roger
Why did Mimi knock on Roger’s door
and Collins choose that phone booth
back where Angel set up his drums?
Why did Maureen’s equipment break down?
Why am I the witness
and when I capture it on film
will it mean that it’s the end
and I’m alone?

 

  • Goodbye Love
    • Sung by Roger, Mark and Mimi
Every word
You don’t want baggage without lifetime guarantees
You don’t want to watch me die
I just came to say
Goodbye, love
Goodbye, love
Came to say goodbye, love, goodbye

 

  • What You Own
    • Sung by Roger and Mark
What was it about that night
What was it about that night
Connection — in an isolating age
For once the shadows gave way to light
For once the shadows gave way to light
For once I didn’t disengage.

 

  • Your Eyes
    • Sung by Roger
I should tell you,
I should tell you,
I have always loved you,
you can see it in my eyes

~You May Not Know~

When the Life Group characters introduced themselves before “Will I” begins, in the Broadway show, the names were changed for the cast member’s friends who had or died of AIDS.

~Why I Love It~

It has interesting characters, deals with different subjects, has fantastic songs and a much deeper meaning than simply “rent” overall. I like how unlike other media forms, the homosexual characters aren’t dealing with “coming out” and it’s not a big deal to the plot. I love the musical incorporates aids, drugs, music, and friendship all together. It portrays relationships realistically between the three couples. A lot of the songs are heartbreaking, emotional and beautiful. All of the pain is believable and I can feel it no matter what media I’m using whether watching the movie or just listening to the musical. Overall I think this is a very touching musical with deep meaning and lessons.

~I Would Recommend This For~

  • John Green fans (especially lovers of The Fault In Our Stars)

The second part of Musical Monday will be on September 8th  The next Musical portion of Musical Monday will be on September 22nd.
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About Amber (YA Indulgences)

Amber is a 20-something woman who enjoys reading, writing, listening to music and taking walks. She has a book blog called YA Indulgences . She is still trying to figure out what she's doing with her life, but she's confident that time will tell. In the meantime she's heading towards the goal of becoming a renowned blogger. View all posts by Amber (YA Indulgences)

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