RENT first rocked Broadway in 1996.
It had a diverse cast, a noisy, contemporary score and a story about young people finding their way in a harsh and unfair world.
That same diversity – that same energy is on stage now with the RENT 20th Anniversary Tour and it is stunning and emotional.
The show is set in New York City’s East Village near the end of the 20th century. RENT follows an unforgettable, turbulent year in the lives of seven artists as they deal with homelessness, addiction and the spread of AIDS. The message is inspiring. It’s about finding love and joy while dealing with fear in a graceful and hopeful way. It is a timeless story of friendship and love.
The characters are in the darkest and roughest times of their lives; Mimi (Deri’ Andra Tucker) is an exotic dancer with a heroin habit; Angel (Javon King), a big-hearted drag queen who falls hard for Tom Collins (Devinré Adams), Mark (Logan Marks), a documentary filmmaker; and Roger (Joshua Bess), a broke musician who fears he’ll die of the virus before writing a great song.
The cast sings the show’s two iconic choral numbers, “La Vie Bohème” and “Seasons of Love,” with a serious depth of feeling that pulls you into their story and their struggles.
The entire show carries you along on the agonizing journey of those young characters. The scores brought me into their struggles and left me wanting more. My favorite part – by far – was the company’s exceptional rendition of “Seasons of Love” at the top of Act 2, one of the most achingly beautiful choral ballads I’ve ever heard.
525,000 moments so dear
How do you measure, measure a year?
The story runs one year – from one Christmas to the next. It leaves you with a reminder of just how fragile – and wonderful – and scary life can be.
Even if you’ve seen RENT – perhaps especially if you’ve seen it – I highly recommend the 20th Anniversary tour. The young cast is powerful – and while it may be the same basic storyline, in the same time period – it does pull from today’s pop-culture and gives us a fresh look at life, love and loss.
RENT is playing at Shea’s Performing Arts Center through March 31st. Tickets can be found HERE.