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Friends in Deed Benefit Features Screening of Rent Film

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A special sneak-peak screening of Rent will be held at Peter Norton Symphony Space, (2537 Broadway at 95th Street) on Tuesday, November 22, 2005 at 7:00 PM. A Q&A session with cast members including Anthony Rapp, Wilson Jermaine Heredia and Tracie Thoms will follow the screening, and all proceeds from the event will go to the non-profit organization Friends In Deed.

A silent auction will also take place between 6:30 and 7:00 PM. Items for auction will include movie posters signed by the entire cast.

"Jonathan Larson's revolutionary rock opera Rent is based on Puccini's classic opera La Boheme and was partly inspired by the author's experiences with Friends In Deed, a crisis center providing emotional support for anyone diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-threatening physical illnesses, the caregivers, family and friends of those who are ill, and those dealing with grief & bereavement. All of Friends In Deed's services are free of charge," state press notes.

Larson attended Friends In Deed meetings in the early 90s accompanying his high school friend Matthew O'Grady, who was HIV+. His experiences at the meetings are directly reflected in the Life Support scene he wrote for Rent. Three of the names used in that scene were names of some of Mr. Larson's friends who have since passed away.

Cy O'Neal, cofounder of Friends In Deed, was asked by Mr. Larson to speak to the cast of the production during its workshop phase. She was later informed by cast member Anthony Rapp about Larson's death.

This event is being produced by Brian J. Heck and Caroline Rieders of Symphony Space, with the assistance of Mr. Rapp, and Robert McNamara of Friends In Deed, with generous support from Revolution Studios and Sony Pictures.

Rent tells the story of a group of bohemians struggling to live and pay their rent in the gritty background of New York's East Village. "Measuring their lives in love," these starving artists strive for success and acceptance while enduring the obstacles of poverty, illness and the AIDS epidemic.

One of the longest running shows on Broadway, Rent was the winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Obie Award, the New York Drama Critics Award, four Tony Awards and three Drama Desk Awards.

Directed by Chris Columbus, the film version of Rent will open in theaters nationwide on November 23rd. A Columbia Pictures/Revolution Studios production, it will be released by Sony Pictures. The original cast--Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp--is intact but for Daphne Rubin-Vega and Fredi Walker; their respective roles of Mimi and Joanne will be played by Rosario Dawson and Tracie Thoms.

Tickets, which can be purchased at www.symphonyspace.org or by calling 212.864.5400 Tues-Sun from 11 AM to 7 PM, are $150 (includes a post-screening reception with cast members), $75 and $50. In the tradition of Rent, the first 2 rows of seats will be sold by Lottery Rush at 5 PM, $20 each, 2 per person, cash only. For more information on Rent, visit www.siteforrent.com.
 

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