Theater: RENT and other things

Holy crap, I really haven’t been following that whole “post once per day” goal I set for myself at all, have I? Oh well, I have something much more important to talk about, namely RENT.

If you’re a regular reader, you’re probably one of my roommates, in which case you know almost everything I’m about to say. If not, some of this is probably irrelevant anyway, since the run of the show I’ll be saying is awesome is already over. Again, oh well.

Bottom line: if you haven’t seen RENT yet, go see it right now. If you have the option to see it live onstage with professional actors and stuff, that’s the best (in my opinion), but the movie version is made with many members of the original Broadway cast, and is fairly true to the story and all that.

Yes, RENT is a musical (which you probably already knew). It was, in fact, the musical that got me to respect musicals again after being in youth theater groups and comparing the Shakespeare I was doing to a bunch of middle-schoolers’ interpretation of, say, Cats (not to disparage that show or anything) in 30 minutes. The show is about a group of people living somewhat illegally (basically squatters) in NYC, mostly artists. The narrator is Mark, a filmmaker, who lives with Roger, a former star (sort of) musician and Tom Collins, a philosophy professor.  Mark’s ex-girlfriend, performance-artist Maureen, recently dumped him for Joanne, a lawyer, and Mark’s landlord, Benny, used to live with them but married into money and is now their landlord. Along the way, Roger gets romantically entangled with Mimi, a dancer, and Collins falls in love with Angel. And standard, silly musical romance ensues, right?

Wrong. Why not? Poverty, drug abuse, and HIV/AIDS. Roger, Mimi, Collins and Angel all have HIV and everyone but Benny is about to get evicted at the start of the show. Roger’s a former drug addict and his girlfriend committed suicide after leaving a note saying “we have AIDS;” Tom Collins starts the show by getting brutally beaten and robbed; Benny is unhappy with his new life; Mimi is a drug addict; Angel is a gay drag queen who kills Benny’s dog for money; and Maureen and Joanne are continually fighting. By the end [SPOILER], Mimi has almost died on the streets and Angel actually does die of AIDS. This, by the way, is the saddest part of the show (for me).

I don’t want to analyze it any more, so I’ll cut to the chase. The production of RENT put on by the Dartmouth Theater Department was mind-blowingly good, and it reminded me of what a fantastic show this is. Probably nobody reads this that I don’t know, and all of them know about this show, but if you don’t go see it now.

Here’s some incentive in video form. Enjoy!

[Featured image: millersville.edu]

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