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Rent has been a musical theatre and pop culture phenomenon since it exploded onto Broadway in 1996. It is coming back for its "20th Anniversary Tour" through the middle of 2017! Not only did Rent win 4 Tony Awards out of an impressive 10 nominations, but Rent also took the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The original Broadway production played for 12 years and over 5,000 performances and launched several U.S. tours and mountings in several foreign countries, including England, Australia, Japan, and Brazil. A successful movie version featuring six of the original cast members (Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Idina Menzel, Jessie L. Martin, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, and Taye Diggs) and two talented newcomers (Tracie Thoms and Rosario Dawson) was also released in 2005, bringing the magic of Rent to the silver screen.
Rent (the stage version) is a rock opera, meaning that it is completely sung through, and the Tony Award-winning score has given us such cherished songs as the signature "Seasons of Love," the playful "Light My Candle" and "Out Tonight," the diva-licious "Take Me or Leave Me," the solemn "Goodbye Love," and many more. The characters in Rent have become iconic and the show has developed a cult following, a group termed "Rentheads," originally referring to the dedicated fans who would camp out in front of the theater to get the $20 rush tickets, but which now means anyone obsessed with the show. Thankfully, many other productions have adopted this practice to make theatre more accessible to low-income individuals, especially students. Whether you're a Renthead yourself or you are just curious about this landmark show, check out the schedule, get your Rent tickets today, and get ready to live "La Vie Boheme!"
The story begins with struggling artists Mark Cohen, a film maker, and Roger Davis, a musician. Mark is beginning a new documentary and Roger is tuning up his guitar when their friend, Tom Collins, arrives at their building. They throw him the key but he is mugged before he makes it in the door. Meanwhile, they receive a call from former friend and roommate Benjamin "Benny" Coffin III. Since Benny found wealth after marrying a rich woman, he has bought their apartment building and demands rent, despite the fact that he had said that they could live there for free. Down in the alley, street drummer Angel finds Collins and brings him home to nurse him back to health. Back in the apartment, Roger tries desperately to write one good song before he dies of AIDS. Downstairs neighbor and drug-addicted club dancer Mimi comes up for a light for her candle and the pair flirt.
The next day, Collins and Angel, now in Christmas-themed drag, come with presents for Mark and Roger. Benny arrives and offers to let them live rent-free if they convince their friend and Roger's ex, Maureen, to cancel a protest scheduled for that night, but they refuse. Mark rushes to the performance space to help fix Maureen's equipment when he runs into her new girlfriend, Joanne. The pair are initially resentful of one another, but find common ground in their distaste for Maureen's flirtatious and unfaithful ways. Meanwhile, Mimi attempts to seduce Roger, but he can not bring himself to let her in, and Collins and Angel profess their love for each other. At the protest, Maureen gives an inspired performance ridiculing Benny for evicting the poor inhabitants of his buildings, but a riot ensues when the crowd get too rowdy. At a cafe after the show, the group unites to pay tribute to their Bohemian lifestyles, despite Benny's assertion that Bohemia is dead. When Roger discovers that Mimi is also HIV positive, they acknowledge that they both have baggage but can't deny their attraction to one another.
As the friends continue their struggles, jealousy and addiction threaten to tear lovers apart and disease threatens to part them forever. Some feel pressured to "sell out" to pay the bills against their more noble judgment, but times are tough and they've got to eat. Order Rent tickets today to discover the rest of the story and learn for yourself the destinies of these brave, young Bohemians.
2 hours and 30 minutes with one intermission
Recommended for young teens and older (sexuality, drugs, adult language, death). Children under 4 are not permitted in the theatre.
1996 Tony Awards: 10 nominations, 4 wins 1996 Drama Desk Awards: 10 nominations, 6 wins 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Book, Music, Lyrics: Jonathan Larson