Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rent: The Final Performance

I went to see the final performance of Rent on Broadway tonight. It was amazing, I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
In England, the saying is "I know it by rote" and in America the saying is "I know it by heart". I know this musical by heart. I know every syllable. I know every spot the actors take a breath. It lives inside me.
Rent was release in 1996, before the internet, at the start of the CD craze, before HIV became a manageable disease. I bought the cassette copy of the soundtrack in late 2006 from Sam the Record Man in the Scarborough Town Centre. I had heard about it, and I think that was the only time in my life I had extra money and was in a record store so I took a chance and bought it. I listened to it many times. By the time I saw the musical for the first time I already knew all the words.
I saw rent when it opened in Toronto, around 1998. I think I saw it with my father and my friend John but I may have already seen it before that. I saw it again with my mother, I believe a total of four times in Toronto. I remember the first time I saw it I cried and cried at the end, like I had never cried before in my life. I couldn't walk out of the theatre.
The third time I saw Rent I started crying at the third song, "One Song Glory" and didn't stop until the end. I cried for 3 hours. I was an open wound, living the life on the stage. It touched me as nothing ever had before.
Rent closed in Toronto and soon after the film came out. The only good part of the film is the original cast (mostly) reprised their roles. Otherwise it was a mess. They changed the time period from the mid-90's to the late 80's, they omitted songs and replaced others with dialogue. There was the feeling people would not want to see a movie that was all music. As a result I didn't go to see Rent in the theatres, the first time I saw it was a very bad bootleg version. I believe I have seen the movie 3 times, I usually watch it after I get home from the play.
Rent returned with a touring company to Toronto in early 2007 and I saw it live. I believe I will see every tour that comes through town.
In September of 2007 I saw Rent on Broadway, which I blogged about. The original cast was back and it was amazing, to be in the theatre where it all began, with the cast that began it.
Tonight I saw the final performance on Broadway. Afterward, the cast came out with some members of the original cast, including Anthony Rapp, but curiously not Adam Pascal. They, along with the current cast, sang a revised version of Season of Love.
Rent is the 7th longest running production on Broadway. For something that in some ways is so of it's time, it's amazing that it had such a prolonged run.
I love it, I am grateful. No day but today.

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