Rent Filmed Live on Broadway
Will Chase (Actor), Adam Kantor (Actor), Michael John Warren (Director)
Broadway Musicals DVD
BM01 Broadway Musicals DVD - Will Chase (Actor), Adam Kantor (Actor), Michael John Warren (Director) - Rent Filmed Live on Broadway - Broadway Musicals DVD - For passionate fans of Rent--the popular Broadway rock musical that updated La Boheme with electric guitars, steel drums, strippers, and drag queens--Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway is a must-have.Written and composed by Jonathan Larson (who died suddenly of an aortic aneurysm just before the show premiered), Rent follows an absurdly clean-cut gaggle of hipster artists who, after having been squatting in a run-down building for a year, are now being told they have to pay that rent by the building's owner, a former friend. At least, that's the plot point that launches everything; really, the musical is about modern romance, grappling with AIDS, and celebrating the creative spirit. This film documents the last performance of the Broadway production, which ran for 12 years. Though the aggressive camera moves and sometimes frenetic editing seem intended to make the film feel less stagebound, this Rent first and foremost captures the stage experience. The production's raw set and self-conscious theatricality (which highfalutin' theater folk might call Brechtian) creates genuine show-biz razzle-dazzle and helps distract from some of the cliches in the musical itself. There are no famous faces (the closest is Tracie Thoms, who played the same role, the lesbian lover of a performance artist, in the movie version), but the cast is solid and exuberant, throwing themselves wholeheartedly into the show's unapologetically sincere paeans to life and love. Set in New York City's gritty East Village, the revolutionary rock opera RENT tells the story of a group of bohemians struggling to live and pay their rent. Measuring their lives in love, these starving artists strive for success and acceptance while enduring the obstacles of poverty, illness and the AIDS epidemic. RENT is Jonathan Larson's Pulitzer and Tony Award winning musical, one of the longest running shows on Broadway. I saw both the show on stage and the highly stylized film version and having now experienced this performance, filmed live on Broadway at the end of the show's run, I now truly realize just how short the film version comes to really capturing the essence of what Jonathan Larson created. This high octane, musically innovative and striking show is also a beautiful and heartfelt exploration of youth, both lost and reclaimed; a very poignant portrait of the search for love and compassion, of hope and beauty in a world that everyday recedes deeper into the empty comforts of materialism and social acceptability. An updated version of Puccini's masterpiece La Boheme, Rent is obviously not as shy about not only examining the wounds of its characters but of exhibiting them; its blatant honesty and unapologetic credo of life are a million miles away from the subtle, innocent and elegant sentiments of late 19th century Parisian artists, starving in their garrets while courting muses. Rent is the black sheep of the Boheme lineage. It's a piece of theatre that bristles with tenacity in the face of hardship and rejection: No one here is willing to take anything lying down. It's really little wonder it was as critically acclaimed as it was and won the many prestigious awards that it did and reason for that is that it manages to be what few musicals have ever managed to be: Authentic, relevant but, ultimately, profoundly human; a rebellious celebration of life even in the face of addiction, illness and death . Add to that mixture some really first rate music, stellar performances and stage direction (an ingenious arc that fluidly shifts its characters around Manhattan yet all within the confines of a stage that's, for the most part, barren) and you've got one heck of a winning recipe.
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