A little over 13 years ago, I was introduced to a new, modern musical take on “La Boheme.” It was called “Rent,” and it was all about people living in NY with very little money, drug addictions, HIV/AIDS, etc. Not your typical musical, right? However, it won a Tony for Best Musical in 1996 and I received the Original Broadway Cast recording for Hanukkah later that year. At first, it took a while to get used to the songs and dialogue. Then one day I just started catching on to the music and story and was hooked. I hadn’t even seen it yet and I felt I knew the characters just through the songs. I checked out the story and pieces started falling into place, helping the songs make that much more sense. A year after I first received this fabulous CD, I got to see it on stage for the first time when it came to Chicago. I immediately fell in love with it. Knowing the story and characters helped me feel even more connected and I felt like I was visiting old friends by the time I got to see it performed live. I even cried during some parts of the second act.
A few months later, my sister and I were home on spring break and we got stuck home in a major snowstorm. (March in Chicago, go figure!) We were determined to wait all day for front row seats (and we had plans to meet a friend in the city for that purpose too), and so we dug the car out of several feet of snow and took the Metra downtown the next day. Then we waited outside all day in the freezing cold for our chance to get front row seats for $20 a person. People were nice and brought us food and later the theater manager let us sit inside. The line didn’t really start forming till later and we were right in front. The show was even more amazing the second time around and we got to meet the cast and take pictures afterward. It was such an awesome day!
After that, I saw “Rent” six more times, including twice in one week.
In July 2001, I got to meet and take a picture with Adam Pascal when he was performing in “Aida” on Broadway. That moment ranked up there with the day I waited outside for tickets.
When the movie version came out, I had to go out and see it on the first day. I wasn’t as thrilled with how they changed songs into short bits of dialogue, but it was cool to see some of the main actors. I recently saw the movie version of the final Broadway performance. It was cool to see the scenes from different angles than I would normally see while sitting down in the audience. It was also nice to see it as a movie with all the songs intact.
“Last night, I had a dream….I found myself in a desert called Cyberland….” Just kidding, but I actually had a dream last night about seeing “Rent” with Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal in it. I didn’t get to see them on tour (my sister did though), but I’m sure that must have been amazing. I’m glad I met Adam in person, in any case. I heard he wasn’t really coming out to meet people at the tour shows, but I could be mistaken.
I think I’ll always be a “Rent”-aholic at heart. I can still listen to the CD and sing along. I still like quoting the songs in other aspects of life. I still like reading articles and seeing videos online about it. I may like other musicals that are being performed today or in the past, but nothing will ever come close to finding the glory I’ve found in “Rent.”
The day we waited out in the cold for front row seats, March 1998
Meeting Adam Pascal, July 2001