Rent revolutionized Broadway in the mid nineties, in much the same way that Hamilton revolutionized Broadway last season. It solidified the rock musical as a genre, won a Pulitzer prize and worked to make its show accessible to those without tons of money to fork over for a broadway ticket, leading to the rush and lottery system on Broadway today. Although the show closed on Broadway in 2008 it is now out on a truly energy filled twentieth anniversary tour (even though it is technically 21 years old).
Within the past two decades Rent has amassed a large following of fans (called Rentheads) and the tour that is now in Minneapolis is unlikely to disappoint. I first became a fan of the show when I was twelve. Although I would not recommend this show to younger audience, for someone going into adolescence and trying to figure themselves out (I don't think I'm there yet) the show echoes a powerful message, love and live life to its fullest.
It had been many years since I had seen the show and I was interested to see if my reaction to it would have changed, and I was frankly a little surprised when it did not. I was still extremely moved by the same things my teenager self was. I was inspired by the central characters who lived their lives by following their passions and not getting caught up in the future. Facing the terrifying world they lived in and the AIDS crisis with courage, love and dignity. These characters still have a lot to teach me.
Rent delivers this message of "No Day But Today" with high energy. The Orpheum is a big theater but the energy coming off the stage at Tuesday night's performance easily filled the house. And the audience gave all that energy right back. I have never been to a show with that kind of energy and audience reaction (including when I saw Rent on Broadway). The rock concert vibe created by the talented cast and the audience seemed to elevate the show to a different level. The intimacy that was lost in a bigger house was replaced with a rippling energy that allowed you to feel all the emotional highs and lows of the show.
You have two more days to experience this energy yourself, Rent leaves town this Sunday. I encourage you to see it before it leaves.
*Photo by Carol Rosegg