Anthony Rapp‘s autobiographical solo show, Without You (based on his book of the same name), will open Off-Broadway in January of 2023 at New World Stages. Previews will begin January 14th with an official opening set for January 25th. Tickets are available now.
I think this is great news. I’m happy the show will finally be getting a full theatrical production in New York. I saw the original festival-production tryout of Without You about a dozen years ago and found it to be the most affecting and meaningful solo show that I’d seen in years. I’d previously felt the same way about Rapp’s book, Without You—it was the most absorbing showbiz memoir I’d come across in years; I bought copies of that book to give friends as presents.
Anthony Rapp starred on stage and screen in Jonathan Larson‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent. (I took the photo of Rapp and castmate Timothy Britten Parker at the recording session for the original cast album of Rent in 1996, while they were singing “Seasons of Love.”) And Without You includes songs that Larson wrote for Rent, along with songs by Rapp and others.
Rapp earned great acclaim for his first-rate work in Rent. And the show established him as an actor. But that was a challenging period for him, personally: his mother was dying. And Jonathan Larson died the night before the first performance of Rent.
Without You deals with all of that. It is an emotional show–very well put together, I recorded in my notes at the time. I felt it was ready for a commercial theatrical “as is,” and was confident it would do well. It was a long time since I’d seen such a powerful solo show. Rapp, backed by a five-piece rock band led by Daniel Weiss, was clearly connecting with the audience at the festival performance I attended. I hoped that producer Christine Henry (Royal Family Productions) – a great believer in Rapp’s work – and cohorts would be able to transfer the show quickly to a nice-sized Off-Broadway house for a commercial theatrical run.
But some complications arose, delaying the realization of that goal. Rapp developed Without You during a period when Rent was not playing in New York. The original Broadway production of Rent ran for about a dozen years, from 1996-2008. Rapp began trying out Without You after Rent had closed in New York City.
The festival tryout that I saw–mounted simply on a modest budget, as all festival productions are–was strong. And I hoped Without You might get a proper Off-Broadway production for the 2011-2012 season. A full production, with proper production values and ample funds for marketing and promotion, is much costlier to mount than a festival production. All rights must be cleared. There are lots of details to work out.
In the meantime, the original producers of Rent decided to open a new Off-Broadway production of Rent at New World Stages that season. And they didn’t want another show running in New York City at the same time that also featured songs from Rent.
So, the idea of presenting Without You Off-Broadway in New York City was put on hold.
Rapp presented Without You elsewhere, as opportunities arose. People got to see Without You in Boston, Edinburgh, London, Seoul, and other cities—but not in NYC. (I wrote friends in Seoul to catch it during its month-long run there!) And then Rapp got busy with other stage and television projects (If/Then, Star Trek: Discovery, etc.) And I wondered if Without You would ever get the proper New York production (and Off-Broadway cast album) it deserved. As years passed, I almost gave up hope.
But neither Rapp nor producer Christine Henry forgot about Without You. And now, a team of producers including (in addition to Henry) Lisa Dozier, Joe Trentacosta, Lorna Ventura, Charlotte Cohn, and Steve Maler are finally giving Without You a proper Off-Broadway production. It’s about time! I hope they’ll record a brand new cast album, as well.
For more info, go to www.withoutyoumusical.com.