Thursday, January 17, 2008

I feel like I need to make an official statement...

...regarding RENT announcing that it will close June 1st. It seems to be what "everybody" is doing this week, and I, like many, have a special connection to that show....

To days of inspiration,
Playing hookey, making something
Out of nothing, the need
To express to communicate,
To going against the grain,
Going insane,
Going mad

To loving tension, no pension
To more than one dimension,
To starving for attention,
Hating convention, hating pretension,
Not to mention of course,
Hating dear old mom and dad

To riding your bike
Midday past the three piece suits
To fruits, to no absolutes
To Absolut, to choice
To the Village Voice
To any passing fad

To being an us for once,
Instead of a them

La Vie Boheme

Okay, I was raised on Broadway showtunes. It's funny, because compared to most of my friends' parents, my parents were definitely always very very cool...and hip...and young. My dad was an athlete and quite a "guy's guy"...and my mother probably knows more current songs and artists than I do. (Not to mention, her wardrobe is probably trendier than mine as well.)

Yes, I grew-up with very cool parents. "Cool" and "love showtunes" are very rarely used in the same sentence.

Despite this, they both really LOVED Broadway showtunes. We would listen to their "American Music Theatre" CD collection (alternating with Frank Sinatra, of course) in the car on our trips from New York City to New Jersey. My sister had a Walkman...I didn't. I was soon sucked into the world of musical sister was not.

By the time I was in the fourth grade, I knew just about every song on those albums. I also had already seen my first Broadway show (Peter Pan when I was 7)and many community theatre productions.

When I was growing-up, my musical theatre love centered around the classics...West Side Story, South Pacific, Carousel (which was my dad and my "show"...add that to the fact that is about a father who dies and comes back to guide his daughter and you can understand why I stay far, far away from it), The Sound of Music, Showboat, etc. etc. etc.

I like my musical theatre traditional...bright...big and bubbly!!!! I like dance numbers! Happy endings! Bright costumes! Rodgers and Hammerstein!

It wasn't until I was 18 that I fell in love with a show which was NOT written long before I was born. In fact, it debuted on Broadway in 1996, when I was in the 8th grade.


I was a freshman in college when I first saw this show. (A rather innocent college freshman at that. When Mimi was looking for her "stash", it took me a while to realize she was talking about drugs.)

It was loud. There were too many actors running around. I was in the mezzanine and had no idea what was going on for half of it.

I wasn't that impressed. I expected more from this show that I had been hearing about for so long.

However, I did promptly fall in love with two songs..."One Song Glory" and "I Should Tell You"...enough to buy the Original Broadway Cast Recording.

He Had The World At His Feet
In The Eyes Of A Young Girl
A Young Girl
Find Glory
Beyond The Cheap Colored Lights

Trusting Desire - Starting To Learn
Walking Through Fire Without A Burn
Clinging - A Shoulder, A Leap Begins
Stinging And Older, Asleep On Pins

Pretty soon, I knew the entire album by heart and when I saw the show for a second time, I was on the road to becoming a Renthead.

My second trip to the Nederlander Theatre was also the day that my mom spotted Sebastian Arcelus, then a new "swing" in the show, outside of the theatre and said, "Hey, there's the drug dealer! He was really cute! Go talk to him!"

(Now, how often does your mother encourage you to talk to a cute drug dealer? Sebastian would soon become one of my favorite "Broadway boys" of all-time. Talented and a wonderful guy who was able to all but two of the male roles in that show!)

Over the next two years, I would see Rent a total of nine more times.

525,600 minutes
525,000 moments so dear
525,600 minutes
how do you measure,
measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee

(I know that sounds extremely excessive...but seriously? It is not. There was this guy, the legendary "Joel" who saw the show, literally, ONE THOUSAND TIMES. To this day, Rent remains my most-seen show...All Shook Up, Aida, and Xanadu are all tied in second place with seven times each...I am pretty sure that Xanadu WILL surpass RENT...because Xanadu has glowsticks. And Cheyenne Jackson. And rollerskates and pink leg warmers!!)

Rent is, in a single word, special. It has often been said that Rent is for people who aren't into traditional musicals...however, I am clearly not one of those people. I LOVE my traditional, old-fashioned musicals...and somehow, Rent found itself a very special place in my heart.

I could go on forever about how touching it the short life of Jonathan Larson should teach all of us to live our lives "no day but today"...that it brings out the starving urban artist in ALL of us...even those of us whose families moved us to the shelter of the suburbs. As much as we can't relate to those characters at the same time, we can completely relate to them...if that makes any sense at all. (It doesn't, does it?)

The fact that it won't be THERE anymore just makes me sad. I was a child when that show premiered, and now I'm an adult! That is a scary enough thought...and that show was there for me during that weird transitional period.

I leave you all with a funny Rent story from five years ago.

I was interning with Students, Live! and we were working with Rent. After the show, one of the students came up to me and said,what I THOUGHT, was "The show was really great!"

I nodded and said, "I KNOW!" and walked away.

My friend said, "You realize that she just said, 'You were really great!' and you responded by saying, 'I KNOW!' and walking away????"


I had been mistaken for crack-addict-exotic-dancer-Latina Mimi Marquez. (All petite women with curly hair look alike to some.)

Thank you, Rent, for twelve wonderful years.

goodbye love
goodbye love
came to say goodbye love goodbye
just came to say goodbye love
goodbye love goodbye love goodbye love

Thank you, Jonathan Larson.

Diana Rissetto