Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This year's RENT

We were watching Glee tonight and saw the obligatory ad for RENT: The Broadway Tour playing at the Civic Center in Des Moines tonight through the end of the week. Once upon a time, I was convinced that I would be going. But here we are and I'm not. It was a conscious choice - mostly I decided it was too expensive and at a bad time of year money-wise and schedule-wise (a certain 7 year old is turning 8 this weekend.) Also, I could not get anyone to go with me as Heidi's not a big musical person and spending 50 bucks on a ticket would be akin to flushing it down the toilet.

So I am missing it. And in the end, I'm not all that upset about it. Sure it would have been fun to go, especially with Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal reprising their roles as Mark and Roger from the original Broadway production. But the more I thought about it, helped in no small part by the ads on TV, I started to wonder if maybe RENT is best just remembered as it was. Perhaps Rapp and Pascal's return to RENT is not all that different than a 30 year-old coming back to perform in a revival of a high school play for which he received great accolades. Is it pathetic? Is it cool? The answer is it probably carefully straddles the line between the two because I felt both excitement and a bit of derision when I saw the ads featuring Rapp and Pascal.

My only real exposure to RENT is through the movie, which got fair-to-middling reviews. From what I understand, it was a fairly faithful adaptation of the Broadway show, with the inevitable changes that the jump to the screen requires. Probably the biggest problem with RENT the movie was that it came out way too late. By the time that the movie finally got around to coming out, RENT fever had abated significantly. But I kind of like it for its cheesiness and even its pretentiousness and the songs are mostly excellent. One thing is for certain - it certainly beat the heck out of the film version of The Phantom of the Opera which I liked mostly for its camp value and unintentional comedic moments.

I walked past the Nederlander Theater in Manhattan when we were in New York in the spring of 2008. RENT was on its way out by then, with a final performance planned for June 1st (eventually delayed till September). I still have a bit of regret that I did not see it on Broadway when I had the chance, but who even knows if I would have been able to score tickets. I remember seeing the lime-green theater which had been defaced by thousands of fans scrawling on their sentiments on the outside wall. It was kind of amazing the impact it had on people, and the impact that the closing of the show had. The show had an impact on me and I didn't even discover it until well after most of the rest of the civilized world had already moved on.

I think it's time to pull out the movie version of RENT again. I have it on my iPod, but I might have to watch it on the TV. Sometimes, the two inch screen on an iPod just doesn't do a film justice.

(Nederlander theater photo credit)

4 comments:

lucas miré said...

Ok, I have to weigh in that, yes, RENT's time has come and gone...but the movie version was pretty bad compared to the stage version. No comparison in my book! The movie made me cringe a little for some reason. But, maybe my expectations were too high...

Dan said...

Perhaps I liked the movie more because I had not seen the stage production prior to seeing the movie...who knows. One thing is for certain, I admire the director/producer/casting director/whoever for allowing the original cast to (for the most part) reprise their roles rather than going after Brad Pitt and Matt Damon for the leads.

RENT is a product of its time and, yes, I'm afraid that its time has gone.

Paul said...

I never really got Rent and it seemed like I should. Perhaps i missed the zeitgeist of it all :/ I know that I sure wish I loved it though...

Dan said...

There is a certain zeitgeist about Rent that, if you missed it, might leave you a little cold on it. I know that I missed it, but the nostalgia for the zeitgeist grabbed me instead.