Rent, The Musical

I have been wanting to write about Rent for the past week, but I am just now getting around to it. Sharon, Melissa and I attended a Rent performance at the Music Hall in Kansas City on June 27. This was the evening of the Sunday of our camping trip to Wallace State Park.

Rent is a musical composed by Jonathan Larson, who wrote the music, lyrics and the book that have won multiple awards, including the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical. Unfortunately, Mr. Larson died previous to the show being released off Broadway, and prior to receiving any of the major awards. The story is a modern day tale based on the opera La Boheme.

Rent, set in New York City's East Village, is about a group of 20 to 30 something artists dealing with life. Several of the characters have AIDS, some are homosexual and all seem to have at least one quality that would qualify them as "dysfunctional". There is a cross-dressing transvestite, a gay computer genius, a struggling musician and several other memorable characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed the music. My favorite numbers were "Seasons of Love", "Out Tonight", "Light My Candle" and "One Song Glory". One song I did not care for was "I Should Tell You". I enjoyed the first act more than the second act. The first act is set primarily on Christmas Eve, while the second act is set throughout the entire next year. My favorite characters were Roger, the musician, and Tom Collins, the gay computer age philosophy teacher. During the song "Seasons of Love", there were some excellent solos by some of the non-major characters.

A major theme of the musical is the quest for peace and happiness in a world of uncertainty, illness and turmoil.  Of course, this is a timeless theme encompassed in many major musical, lierary and art works.  At the end of Rent, one is left with the impression that the major characters have found peace within themselves, and have accepted their lot in life, despite what misfortune has befallen them.  In the end, Rent is a lesson on how to live out the short life that we all have been granted. 

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