Recently I got to do something pretty spectacular. I got to see the official touring cast of the musical RENT. Which included the original Mark and the original Roger, Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal, who first started playing these roles 13 years ago as young unproven actors on Broadway.
I have never seen RENT on stage before. I was aware of it as a musical, but had never heard of seen it before the film came out a few years back. I saw the movie three times in one weekend when it was the campus film and fell in love. I, like so many people, was captivated by this musical, by the music, and the story, the energy and the feeling of it. I bought the movie, got the Broadway soundtrack, and know the music very well. Yet I'd never done the crucial thing, I'd never seen it on stage. Simply because I've never had the chance, until now.
And when I was offered the chance to go see it way back in February, I jumped at it. I wrote a check to a friend and was the proud owner of a ticket. However, I didn't realize until about a month ago that Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp were going to be in it. Anyone who has seen the film has heard their amazing voices (MoM, FYI, you have seen the film). Because 90% of the original Broadway cast was in the film, and these are the only two recordings of RENT I've ever heard, I've literally never heard anyone else sing these two parts. Isn't that sort of spectacular? And my excitement was amazing. These actors make the musical for me.
I'm sure at some point I will see RENT again with a totally different cast. I may even be lucky enough so see these actors in other roles on stage on person. Or maybe even in these roles again. I was thinking last night about all the famous people I've seen on stage. Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Daniel Radcliff, 60 percent of the rest of the Harry Potter cast, and I'm probably forgetting someone really cool or famous. Yet getting to see these actors in the roles I know and loved them for, that is something really special. They inhabit this play in a way that I'm not sure any other actors ever can or will. And because of them, this production.
RENT premiered on Broadway over 13 years ago. And it became a sensation. Something about the intertwined stories of these 7 characters speaks to people. RENT tackles a broad variety of topics, or alternately, a specific thing. It tells the story of young people dealing with AIDS, drug addiction, suicide, homosexuality, even homelessness. Because of its frank, loving, supportive treatment of these things RENT became a symbol for the disenfranchised, the lonely. It seems to be about hope and yes, love. Oh man, maybe I am fixated on love and its place in theatre. Which is a good thing to focus on, if I have to pick, I guess.
Getting to see it was a perfect fleeting few hours of theatre. I wanted to drag my feet and make it go on forever. I always feel that way when watching a particularly good play; I don't ever want the moment to end. But it did, of course. However, even a few weeks later I'm still pretty happy about it. I told my friend Julia, who is getting ready to see the same production in Seattle soon, that seeing it was a bit anticlimactic for me. She was disappointed to know I felt that way. I'm not sure thats exactly right. I just wonder if sometimes, its the whole entire theatrical experience that makes a show. The build up, the let down, all of it, more than the actual two and a half hours of theatre that create a show.