“Rent” really lights my candle

I just saw a commercial for Rent, the Broadway musical– the tour cast has come to San Francisco! For anyone who hasn’t seen it and has the chance, go see it! Even if you aren’t into musicals. I must admit, despite growing up near enough to NYC to see a Broadway musical every now and again and even being in a high school musical production or two, I’m usually not that into musicals. Often, when I’m watching a musical, I’m going along with the story, learning about the characters, but then when everybody starts singing suddenly, I say, “What the hell? Why is everyone singing?” And then I remember: oh yeah, it’s a musical.

But I have no snarky comments for Rent. Written by Jonathan Larson, it’s a remake of La Boheme, but in true twentieth century, rock opera style. The story focuses on a group of young people living in the Lower East Side of New York City and fighting to keep the industrial loft space they live in. It’s a celebration of the Bohemian lifestyle they all pursue, but the story also focuses on three main relationships– gay, straight and lesbian. It touches on HIV/AIDS, drug addiction, sexuality, and more. It’s got a little something for everyone! I cry like a little girl every time I see it.

And don’t forget– the original Broadway cast included Taye Diggs as Benny and Law & Order‘s Jesse L. Martin as Tom Collins. And yes, it’s them singing on the original Broadway cast recording!

It’s a heart-wrenching tale and it’s full of pop culture references from the nineties. Unfortunately, Larson passed away from an aortic aneurysm the night before the show’s Broadway debut, but Rent has gone on to be one of the most successful shows on Broadway and people keep coming back for more.