Thursday, September 04, 2008

Goodbye, Love

I was around 13 or 14, visiting family in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was hanging out with my cousins at their house and they asked me if I heard of a new musical called RENT (the three of us were and still are musical theatre fans). I hadn't. They told me the plot of the show and the story of Jonathan Larson's tragic death and then played me the cast recording. I was blown away. My cousins had made a cassette tape for me of The Beatles Anthology 2, which I didn't have yet (we also share a love of the Beatles), and there was some room left at the end of the cassette, so they added a few RENT songs (I think they were "Rent," "One Song Glory," "Happy New Year," and "Seasons of Love"), which I listened to over and over again when I returned to California until I bought the complete album (I have also since bought the Beatles Anthology 2 on CD).

RENT will finally close this Sunday after a 12-year run, and I think it's time, but I can't help feeling a little emotional. Had I grown up in New York, I would probably have been a RENT-head, but I had to wait for the touring company before I was able to see the show and then I was blown away again. I felt like this show had been written for my generation, which seems a little silly now. What did I know then (or even to an extent now) about AIDS or loss or not having money to pay rent? Yet something about the show spoke to me. The characters felt so real to me. At that point, I had never met anyone who was openly gay, but the show made me sympathetic to gay rights. I loved the idea of no day but today.

I saw the show for a second and final time towards the end of high school with some friends, who used to sing RENT with me in between classes. I have never seen the show in New York and was considering going before it closed, but I am afraid that after such a long run, it won't be the same. I'd rather remember RENT when it was still new and groundbreaking. I can always listen to the soundtrack or watch the movie, which was a disappoint (how dare they live out "Christmas Bells"), but as close as I'd ever get to seeing the original cast. I'm glad RENT came around when it did, and I only hope they don't revive it in two years.


Kathleen said...

Agreed: Rent revival = bad. Give it another decade or three. What really struck me about the movie (which was indeed a HUGE disappointment!) was how incredibly dated it all seemed, all of a sudden. It was a pretty rough transition to the big screen. The music really translates better in a live setting. And not accompanied by cheesy music-video cinematography.

Kathleen said...

ps - now I have that DAMN song in my head...

(I know a place, a clinic -- a REhab -- maybe... could you? -- I'll pay.)