For those students who can’t afford the price of anexpensive ticket to see a Broadway play in New York, the latest adaptation of the Tony-Award winning Broadway play RENT offers the chance to experience a musical for a reasonable price. RENT invites the audience to “celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends” although at times, their lives are not anything worth celebrating.
RENT is an updated version of Puccini’s opera "La Boheme" that follows the story of seven characters and their rough lives in the East Village in New York. It’s the late 80s, AIDS is rampant and money is scarce as this eclectic group tries to survive in the midst of their “sell-out” landlord who is threatening to put them on the street. The story centers around the dingy apartment of Mark (Anthony Rapp), a hopeful but yet to be successful filmmaker, and Roger (Adam Pascal), an ex-junkie singer-songwriter who is living with AIDS and desperately trying to make a hit. Mark was recently dumped by his girlfriend Maureen (Idina Menzel who left him for a woman: a lawyer named Joanne (Tracie Thoms). As if dealing with life’s struggles weren’t enough, their ex-friend and now unsympathetic landlord Benny (Taye Diggs) is threatening to kick them out to make way for a new development. Mimi, (Rosario Dawson) a drug-addicted stripper who also suffers from AIDS, lives downstairs from the guys. She is interested in Roger, although he’s emotionally unavailable. The group comes full circle with Tom-Collins (Jesse Martin), a professor, who falls in love with Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia), a transvestite who saves him after a mugging. Both are HIV-positive.
If you have seen the rock-opera on Broadway will appreciate the movie version. The movie stays fairly true to its musical beginnings, with its characters periodically bursting into song favorites like "Seasons of Love" and “No Day But Today." Additionally, many of the stars-Taye Diggs, Idina Menzel, Jesse Martin, Anthony Rapp, and Adam Pascal- are from the original cast with Tracie Thomas and Rosario Dawson and adding a refreshing change. The movie was set on-location in New York City, which added a twist of reality to the story that is hard to capture onstage. Chris Columbus worked on the script and directed the movie.
Those who have not seen the plays before may also enjoy this movie. It’s a sad story, but it is one that is engaging to the very end. That is if you can get past the characters belting about low “T-cell” counts and having lover’s spats in song.
Bottom Line: If you enjoy theatre and musicals, don’t wait to rent this movie! It’s worth seeing in theaters today!