In 1996 one of the most amazing musicals I have ever seen hit broadway. That musical was RENT. It is a rock musical written by Jonathan Larson, based on the opera La Boheme. It tells the story of a group of struggling young artists and musicians trying to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. One of the saddest thing was that the creator Jonathan Larson died suddenly the night before the off-Broadway premiere. He never got to see how his work inspired and touched millions of people. It won a Tony Award for Best Musical and closed in 2008 after a 12-year run.
Fans of the show were known to be called RENT-heads. Everyday people would camp outside the theatre to try to get the $20 day-of tickets. The tickets were for the first two rows of the theatre and were given out by a lottery. While these RENT-heads were camped out (sometimes overnight) they would write on the wall outside the Nederlander Theater. This wall was eventually a symbol of the impact the show had on people. Sadly when the show closed in 2008 the wall was repainted :( I did have my name on that wall for quite some time though. From 2005-2008.
I do consider myself a RENT-head. I think total I saw the show about 10 times. All with different casts and each one was just as amazing as the time before.
In 2005 RENT came to the silver screen. Using most of the original cast, besides a few, we couldn’t wait for the movie to premiere. At this point I was in college and most of my friends had an equal love for RENT. One day we heard that the cast of the movie would be doing a meet and greet in NYC at a bookstore. The first 100 people in line got to meet them and got a free poster to get signed. I was devastated when I realized I had a final that morning. My sister and my friend Erin decided to drive the 3 hours to NYC from school at 12am to wait in line outside Barnes and Noble in Times Square.
The greatest thing ever happened that day though. I got a call as I was leaving class from Cheryl saying they were driving back to school and to be ready. They were able to get me a wristband to meet the cast! They drove all the way back to school, picked me up, and we headed straight back to NYC to meet them. It was such an awesome experience and I still have my poster framed in my room. Sadly the only one not there was Jesse L. Martin who played Collins.
In November 2005 the movie premiered in NYC at the famous Ziegfeld Theatre. When we heard about it we made sure to get tickets. I think every one of my friends that wanted to go was online or on the phone and we got tickets! It wasn’t the cast premiere it was the fan premiere. We even made our own RENT shirts!
While waiting outside for the movie we even met Rosario Dawson’s mom!
It was an amazing night and we loved the movie. I bought it as soon as it came out on DVD.
Cheryl and I also went to the Today Show concert where the cast performed.
And we tried to get tickets to the benefit concert they had in honor of Jonathan Larson. We sat outside the theatre all day but non of us were chosen for the lottery.
One of my prized possessions (also framed in my room) is my signed Playbill by Anthony Rapp.
RENT has been a big part of my life. I can’t really relate to the characters on every level. I have never been poor or struggling as much as them. The reason I love RENT is the story it tells of people being able to overcome struggle, no matter what life throws at them. The one line that most people around the world know is the theme to the show. No Day But Today. This is your one life and you need to live it to the fullest. If not today, then when?