Rent is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson loosely based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in New York City’s East Village in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. More info here
The generous spirit of Jonathan Larson (1960-1996) certainly was felt in New York's great supper club, Feinstein's/54 Below, the night I went to see The Jonathan Larson Project (which filled the club for a dozen performances in six nights, with different guest-stars each night). It did my soul good to be there. [more]
My own personal favorite moment in the show–and of course this is subjective, simply one person's reaction to what he witnessed–was seeing/hearing Anthony Rapp sing to Menzel that she did not have to love him; they could make a life together work, even without that. The song was unusual, and it was performed to perfection, with Rapp giving a master class in how to act in singing a song, how to interpret lyrics with utter conviction, how to make a song compelling. [more]
The audience packing City Center--whether applauding or laughing or cheering--certainly showed its enthusiasm throughout. The opening scene of "tick, tick...BOOM!" is very powerfully and economically written. I admire Larson's writing. Hearing those ticks (representing the relentless passing of time), and anticipating the coming boom (of an impending disaster that is somehow sensed without being fully understood) ... well, that came from a deep place. [more]
Although its language is no rougher than what you'll hear in Rent or Avenue Q, Spring Awakening may be a tougher journey, especially for young teens. This sometimes downbeat adaptation of a controversial work incorporates a number of uncomfortable topics, including incest, masturbation, teen suicide and abortion.
Warnings aside, let's hope that older teens (who already make up much of the audience), along with Generations X and Y will embrace Spring Awakening the way they did Rent ten years ago. [more]
Even the set is clever: Set designer Anna Louizos' two-dimensional backdrop of rundown townhouses is replete with doors and windows that pop open like the flaps on an Advent calendar, transforming segments of the stage into a disco, an apartment interior, or even the observation deck of the Empire State Building. [more]