Before the performers hit the stage or music filled the tiers of the Keller Auditorium, I knew I was in trouble. Rent,
a Broadway classic, hit movie, and the biggest stage production to hit town this summer opened with a bang last night—just ask the 2,291 hardcore fans in attendance
(The Keller seats 2,292).
I was seated near the front, in Row G (or row gay
, as the men next to me joked) and I almost wished I had seats further away from the hardcore fans (I later learned these seats didn't exist), or at least something closer to an exit. I can't imagine the consequences that would have befallen me if I had said I knew nothing about Rent
and had never even been to a musical before.
As each character stepped on stage they were met with enormous cheers and claps from the audience. None more so then Adam Pascal
and Anthony Rapp
, members of the original cast and stars of the 2005 Rent
film adaptation, playing Roger Davis and Mark Cohen, respectively. The plot was a bit confusing to me at first, but once the pieces began to fall into place, it was easy to be amazed by the performers
and the well-rehearsed production team.
The song lyrics are a little cheesy ("You can't buy love, but you can rent it
.") but the take-home message was fairly heartwarming despite the AIDS-related death and drug rehab drop outs.
The remarkably gorgeous cast shined through the 150-minute performance. Lexi Lawson
, a newcomer to the cast as Mimi, sang and danced her way through Act I's "Out Tonight" so strongly I thought she had to have been lip synching
(she wasn't—Britney Spears take note.)
Special recognition also goes to Pascal and Rapp, for doing this play Lord knows how many times, but still showing such enthusiasm for it. Bravo.
Although, audience members managed to take the enthusiasm even higher, many singing along to songs or letting out screams of joy at each new chord.
In the end, I may not be measuring my next 525,600 minutes
in "Rent" shows, but it wasn't a bad way to spend about 187 of them.