Songwriter-librettist Jonathan Larson produced Rent following seven years of revisions. Hoping to finally achieve a break-through in his career, Larson never witnessed the sensation that Rent came to be because he died from an aortic aneurysm at the age of 35 on the day public previews were to begin in New York. This tragic event sparked director Michael Greif to do everything he could to make the show succeed. Rent ended up a major Broadway hit and even won Larson the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
Known as a “Hair of the 90s”, Rent updates Puccini’s La Boheme, revolving around alternative artists in Manhattan’s East Village at the end of the 20th century rather than bohemians in 19th-century Paris. Rent includes characters who are homeless, transvestite, gay, drug-addicted, and more, however it’s overall celebratory rather than tragic like La Boheme. Written for a cast of 15 characters and a 5-piece band, Rent contains around 35 songs ranging from humorous to sobering in style. Rent likely achieved success due to its contemporary subject and aim to celebrate life through the midst of the darkness found in death and disease.
Below you can view the popular “Seasons of Love” from Rent.
Now that we’ve spent the last month looking at a variety of musicals I’m curious…do you have a favorite era or style of musical? There are certainly many musicals that I did not have the time to mention in my blog. Feel free to share your favorite!