All the reasons why we're still 'Rent' superfans
It’s been almost 20 years since Rent debuted on Broadway. Isn’t that insane? The ultimate ’90s musical about New York 20-somethings just trying to get by on their art, their neck scarves and their gloriously big hearts, became a monster hit show, and then a monster hit movie, before eventually flickering out on the Broadway scene. But, but, but, we have amazing news! The show is poised to reopen in New York this fall—this time, off-Broadway (which is actually where it got its start.) Starting September 23, the 5th Floor Theatre Company will stage the Pulitzer Prize-winning show at a theater in Long Island City, Queens. BRB, lining up for our tickets now.
If you’re a Rent superfan, you understand this calls for a celebration. (And if you’re not, we hope to convert you by the end of this post). So break out that old two-disc CD set, and sing along to “Light My Candle” with us. Here are 10 reasons why Rent is still the best.
1. It has highly relatable characters
Roger, Mark, Mimi, Tom, Angel, Maureen, Joanne. Also, Benny. We can all relate to one, if not multiple, members of this crew, as they struggle to find their place and purpose in life. These characters are are all coming into their own — whether that means they’re beginning to understand the realities of their life, their sexuality, or their profession. Yes, many of them are also dealing with disease which makes the figuring-it-out stakes a lot higher, but there is something very universal about struggle that everyone can relate to.
2. The storyline speaks to us
Again with the relatability. The show literally opens with the main characters wondering how they’re going to pay the rent. Haven’t we all tried to figure that out at some point or another? Haven’t we all ignored a voice mail from our mom too? Haven’t we all danced on the tops of tables at least once? Love, loss, life, and rent checks are things we all deal with on a daily basis. Playwright Jonathan Larson just is exceptionally good at putting those strifes to music.
3. It portrays all kinds of love
Rent is about a lot of things but it is mostly about love. It’s about love for yourself, love for each other, and love between humans — of all gender identities and sexual orientations.
4. It’s ridiculously quotable
If you haven’t yelled “TAKE ME OR LEAVE ME’ at someone before, you need to get on that right now. Not only that, but “no day but today,” a mantra we should all follow on the regular.
5. We’ve all still got a crush on Roger
There’s just something swoon-worthy about Roger. He’s so damaged, so troubled, and he also doesn’t want to get hurt anymore. When he sings “Your Eyes” to Mimi assuming that she’s going to die? It’s almost too much to handle. He’s someone we can’t help but root for, he’s got such a good heart and has overcome so many hardships — plus he’s dealing with the reality of being HIV positive. All we want to do is see him happy.
6. OK, we’ve still got a crush on Mark, too
Mark’s a struggling filmmaker, which is so dreamy in itself, but add that with a little bit of neuroses and a perfectly skinny scarf, and I just want to hang out with him forever. I once saw Anthony Rapp on a street corner in NYC, and I think it changed my life.
7. We also have a crush on Maureen
There was a time before Adele Dazeem, if you can believe that. Idina Menzel got her HUGE break playing Maureen in the original cast of Rent. Have you ever been talking to friends about Ms. Menzel, and suddenly they start “moo-ing?” That’s because of RENT. It’s what Maureen does during her one-woman show and Idina Menzel has had a cult following ever since. It’s easy to see why Joanne is crazy for her, we’re crazy for her, too.
8. Three words: “Seasons of Love”
My first encounter with “Seasons of Love” was in fourth grade when my class sang it at our end of year concert. I vividly remember my music teacher explaining to the class that she couldn’t show us the musical that it was from, because it was still “too old” for us. For a bunch of 9 year olds, that was probably for the best.
Even though the context of the rest of the play might be better suited for young adults, the song “Seasons of Love” is universal no matter the age. Thanks to this song, I remember being with friends i 9th grade and really thinking about how we were going to measure our time — we decided that laughter was the best way.
9. You will never ever be able to forget the words to “La Vie Boheme”
Try as you might, this song is stuck in your head forever. Impress your friends with the fact that you know every word to every verse. And 13 orders of fries! (Is that in here?)
10. It’s, quite simply, the most perfect musical about the human spirit
The story of RENT’s initial Broadway run is both uplifting, and extremely heartbreaking (Jonathan Larson, the brilliant mind behind RENT, died just before the show opened). But from that sadness and tragedy, a beautiful show was born that perfectly captures all that it means to be human.
No day but today.