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Rent: Live On Broadway
on February 25, 2009
If you are a fan of Jonathan Larson's smash hit musical, then this is something you'll definitely want to own. However, for the sake of contrast, I will provide a brief, critical break down. Rent is not a dramatically integrated musical, and I was perplexed to learn that it fetched the Pulitzer for drama. It addresses social issues, yes, but from the "drama" perspective, it's neither especially well-written or well-organized. There are far too many characters, and a lot of the scenes are more like Look-At-What-I-Can-Get-Away-With-Saying-On-Stage stunts than thematic contributions.
As a musical, Rent feels a little chaotic and static, owing to a weak plot and characters with ho-hum conflicts and desires. The lyrics are very bland. I'm not asking for Hammerstein's poeticness or Sondheim's eloquence, but there are far too many kitchy lines i.e. "Like a sunset" and "I can see it in your eyes"--lines that are repeated hundreds of times in songs and shows, and that have become annoying and empty in meaning--
Thus, the show hypocritically falls victim to the cliche, mainstream conformity that its popular number "La Vie Boheme" so blatantly bashes. But although serious music and theatre people will see this musical as a bastardization of Puccini's masterpiece, it has done a good job of making known to younger audiences the profundity of that classic opera--which I highly recommend seeing.
But to its great credit, Rent has caught a fevor amongst modern theatregoers, and it never fails for pure, sing-along-able entertainment!