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RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by BigMamaSangTenor 2012-07-23 17:16:20


Let me get my personal feelings aside and out of the way: I am very attached to the production and love it. Anyway, I was wondering from a mostly objective (but also from a subjective)perspective why RENT the musical gets so much criticism from the theatre community, and by theatre community I mean those who are well-seasoned in performance art/musicals. Not the majority of the youth or population really that has only seen or listened to a handful of musicals in general and therefore love the production's catchy tunes. I'm really curious about this.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Jordan Catalano 2012-07-23 17:19:45


I think it was more the obsessive fans and the shlteous movie that people had a problem with.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by CarlosAlberto 2012-07-23 17:32:23


I don't have a problem with RENT. It's one of my favorite musicals.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by blaxx 2012-07-23 17:46:59


You have a small contemporary musical that looks deep into a specific community of a speficic era. It successfully adapts the themes and characters from a tragic opera that combines love, friendship and art, and then gives the specific topics the relevancy of universal themes. You cast mostly unknown but talented young performers, which is coherent to what is communicated.

Then, you take all that and want to turn it into an over-hyped Broadway extravagant product. You do the math.

The truth is that the musical was a huge floperoo anywhere outside of the US, and IMHO, it is the perfect example of wanting to commercially exploit a product that communicates wanting to achieve the opposite.

I think Larson would have grown into a great artist. It is sad that his piece was exposed to so much greed.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by NewYorkPulse24 2012-07-23 17:53:01


I just hate that it came back off broadway
Finally this piece gets to rest!

or so we hope

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Visceral_Fella 2012-07-23 17:56:18


I have mixed feelings about "RENT". I've seen it twice, once on tour, once off-broadway. When I'm physically in the theatre watching it, I enjoy it. When I leave the theatre I find it overrated, and I'm annoyed by it. That may have something to do with my loathing of the ending. I found myself cringing each time Mimi came back to life.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by jv92 2012-07-23 18:15:29


I think had Larson lived, RENT would have had a nice Off-Broadway run and garnered some attention. THEN the next show of his would have been the big one, the more mature one, and perhaps the one where he worked with a collaborator.

But instead, he died, the show got overhyped, mostly because of his unfortunate passing and greed and garnered an annoying group of fans, not to mention a bad movie. Then some moron came on BWW proclaiming he deserved to have the Nederlander named after him, and a small square on 41st St. devoted to him.

And that is why I do not care for RENT.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Mister Matt 2012-07-23 18:16:41


I found myself cringing each time Mimi came back to life.

Except Mimi doesn't die. She's just unconscious.

Once every musical becomes big, successful, and develops a large fan base, the popular response is backlash within the community. It's perfectly acceptable to fall in love with a show until it's embraced by the general public. Then you have to be above "the masses".

As for me, I saw the original cast three times shortly after it won its Tony awards and it was all the hype and more. I kept returning because the CD had not yet been released and I wanted to cement that music in my memory as much as possible. I don't think any other cast had the same impact as the original. The characters and direction slowly got off track over the years until such characters as Angel, Maureen and Mark had completely different personalities, so I can understand why some people may have been disappointed by the show if they saw it late in the run. I saw it about a year before it closed and it wasn't the same show at all. It was a letdown to see how ambivalent the producers and management had been towards keeping the show on track. It was more like a talent show performed for the Rentheads in the front rows. The direction was obviously cleaned up for the filming of closing night because the show didn't look that good the last time I saw it.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by broadwaydevil 2012-07-23 18:22:08


It's really not a bad show. It's flawed, but it is decent. I think what's really become the problem is the obsessive, rabid fan base who insist it's the best thing they've ever seen and are prepared to shout anyone down who may disagree with them.

Other issues with it are that it really doesn't say much. It was a bit late to the game in terms of having any real influence or having something provocative or insightful to say about AIDS. A much better theatrical piece if that's what one is interested in would be The Normal Heart, as an example.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by jv92 2012-07-23 18:26:19


Both THE NORMAL HEART and ANGELS IN AMERICA are far more successful HIV/AIDS-related pieces. I don't think RENT is all that successful in its portrayal of gays either. Look at FALSETTOS and even KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN for far better "gay musicals" if such a label exists.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by michellek45 2012-07-23 18:34:32


jv92- Though I'm not a huge fan of RENT for its numerous pacing/plot problems, I think it manages to succeed with its gay characters because it's not a "gay musical." Obviously I'm not saying the other shows you mentioned are less important because they make a lot of their show about the issues surrounding being gay, but I do appreciate that RENT has gay characters whose main conflicts aren't about their sexuality.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by beltingbaritone 2012-07-23 18:38:07


The characters and direction slowly got off track over the years until such characters as Angel, Maureen and Mark had completely different personalities...

Mister Matt, as someone who did not see Rent unit later in the run, I'm curious as to what the differences in Angle, Maureen, and Mark's characterization compared to the original cast. I own the original cast recording, and of course have seen the film, but I'd love to hear what you thought the differences were!

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-23 18:51:35


Speaking only for myself, I'm not a fan of any of the iterations of LA BOHEME. Yes, Puccini's music is stunning, but there's very little real plot or action. Characters just stand around and sing about being poor, sick and in love. (And in the Puccini, I think there's an aesthetic war going on between the naturalistic text and the operatic score.)

I probably wouldn't care about RENT one way or another if it hadn't been so over-hyped after Larson's death. But I agree with jv92 that the exaggerated praise made the show seem overbearing.

That said, when I actually saw the national tour, I didn't mind the time I spent in the theater. And I loved Neal Patrick Harris.

(Edited to correct typo.)

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Mister Matt 2012-07-23 19:14:29


Then, you take all that and want to turn it into an over-hyped Broadway extravagant product. You do the math.

Well "over-hyped" is about as subjective as "extravagant", so don't expect everyone's math to equal yours. What was so extravagant about Rent? It was cleverly staged, but it didn't have an abundance of sets, costumes or special effects. It wasn't a spectacle or heavy on choreography. What is your basis for comparison? A Chorus Line (another show that was not as successful internationally as in the US and yielded a flop film)?

The truth is that the musical was a huge floperoo anywhere outside of the US, and IMHO, it is the perfect example of wanting to commercially exploit a product that communicates wanting to achieve the opposite.

So, international productions are the equivalent of commercial exploitation? Or to maintain artistic integrity, should a show not be produced anywhere outside its original forum? It flopped in the West End, but has had MANY international productions (nearly all of them limited engagements like most international productions) in over 40 countries performed in 24 languages and producing 15 cast recordings. Of course, none of the productions ran as long as Broadway, but most American hit musicals don't.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by exedore 2012-07-23 20:08:45


"I'm curious as to what the differences in Angel, Maureen, and Mark's characterization compared to the original cast"

Angel's a bit underwritten, but the comedy's been played up more with the role over the years, vs. the inherent kindness/sweetness.

Maureen went from edgy performance artist to dumb blonde. This was a fairly early change, and pretty much got locked in after the Canadian tour in 99, though Sherie Renee Scott definitely went this way during her time in the role as well.

Mark also went a bit more comedic vs. the entirely detached loner.

One of the things that made me sad about the show as it ran over the years is that the show got so bland with the same cast members coming in and out for the last few years. In the early years (96-99 or so), the various casts, replacements, swings, etc. were encouraged to make the roles their own, and one could see a very different show between NYC and the first two tours (first tour was grittier, second very poppy), let alone variety with the various swings.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by bdn223 2012-07-23 20:11:44


The issue with RENT is that it is incomplete...Larson died before its first preview Off-broadway...so in a period when rewrite run rampant, all its director could do was restage...many of the reviews for the New World Stages production acknowledged this fact.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by TheGirlUpstairs 2012-07-23 21:44:55


A lot of people on this thread are saying that it's flawed, that it's incomplete, that it has character and plot problems. But very few are saying WHY, which is what the OP was asking for. So what are all these problems? I don't doubt that they exist, I'm just curious what you all think.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-23 22:16:05


Cleverly staged? The version I saw seemed to take place entirely behind a DSC table.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-23 22:18:13


A lot of people on this thread are saying that it's flawed, that it's incomplete, that it has character and plot problems. But very few are saying WHY, which is what the OP was asking for. So what are all these problems? I don't doubt that they exist, I'm just curious what you all think.

I thought the OP was asking why RENT attracts such strong feelings from its detractors, not why we think the show is flawed.

I think the simple answer is that the negative responses are directly proportional to the exaggerated praise afforded an undeveloped show because its author died.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by michellek45 2012-07-23 22:40:21


For me, the pacing is really weird. The first act takes place in three hours, and then the second act jumps around for nine months. It's really jarring and makes the character's motivations/emotions strange and, ultimately, unrealized.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by A Director 2012-07-23 23:00:35


Yes, RENT has flaws. There are shows running now on Broadway that also have flaws.

If Jonathan Larson had lived would he have made changes? Perhaps. It is possible. We will never know.

Did his death create an interest in the show? Yes. Was his death, the primary reason the show moved to Broadway. In my opinion, no. If an author's death is a sure way of moving a show to Broadway, then heaven help authors.

On the other hand, no show runs for 12 years because an author died. There are reasons why RENT was and continues to be popular. RENT come along at a time when people were talking about musicals with falling chandeliers, a helicopter, singing feline and junk on a turnable. RENT is a musical about people.
It's score is not Euro-trash.

RENT is not a musical about AIDS. Yes, AIDS is part of the fabric of the show. RENT is about people trying to connect. RENT is about family/community. RENT is about young people finding their way in the world. In my opinion, these are the primary reasons why the show was a success, why it touched people and why it will be continue to be performed.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Jon 2012-07-23 23:08:28


Seeing it very early in the Broadway run, with the original cast before their voices started to go, was absolutely magical.

Seeing clips of replacement casts, and seeing the movie with the originals ten years later, was dismal.

Or to be more concise:
Idina's perky bare butt on stage in 1996 - delightful.
Idina's saggy bare butt on screen in 2006 - not so much.

Some things just don't hold up well over time.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-23 23:24:38


"For me, the pacing is really weird. The first act takes place in three hours, and then the second act jumps around for nine months."

That is pure La Boheme, the template for RENT. One magical 24 hours with unlikely loves at first sight for act one. One year of ups and downs and downs over the next year in act two. That's sort of the point.

There is almost no Equity production I didn't see in the Broadway years. Original cast, first national tour, second national tour, "It's Us, Anthony and Adam! So long, Tour" and even the Off-Broadway revival right before the cast changes. You know, people either like something or they don't. I myself have gotten sick to death of something talked about ad nauseum (WICK-KED, a show I saw the week in opened and I can't recall anything about it, but that doesn't stop me from mocking the license to print money they turned it into). And when the Off Broadway run of RENT was announced I was a bit put out by the honesty of the producer saying it was his duty to "exploit" the title. I mean, clearly he took it seriously.

But what it always came back to when I went to see it was the show. A simple telling of story that bears very little resemblance to reality in the East Village at any time, but which entirely focusses on the most important thing in life: connecting. Only connect.



RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by michellek45 2012-07-23 23:52:31


"That is pure La Boheme, the template for RENT. One magical 24 hours with unlikely loves at first sight for act one. One year of ups and downs and downs over the next year in act two. That's sort of the point."

I'm aware that that's the point, but that doesn't mean I think it was a particularly good point or one that was well-executed.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by blaxx 2012-07-24 00:12:26


Well "over-hyped" is about as subjective as "extravagant", so don't expect everyone's math to equal yours. What was so extravagant about Rent? It was cleverly staged, but it didn't have an abundance of sets, costumes or special effects. It wasn't a spectacle or heavy on choreography. What is your basis for comparison? A Chorus Line (another show that was not as successful internationally as in the US and yielded a flop film)?

No, what I'm saying is that it was promoted as the show it wasn't. For a show that is not subtle about standing against selling out and the importance of being true to your creative convictions, the way it was over hyped, the desperate marketing, the out place B-list celebrities, etc. was all wrong. And over hyped is certainly not subjective when it comes to ReNt - I mean, Alessandrini was not wrong with was happening back in the 90's when writing his spot on parody.

So, international productions are the equivalent of commercial exploitation? Or to maintain artistic integrity, should a show not be produced anywhere outside its original forum? It flopped in the West End, but has had MANY international productions (nearly all of them limited engagements like most international productions) in over 40 countries performed in 24 languages and producing 15 cast recordings. Of course, none of the productions ran as long as Broadway, but most American hit musicals don't.

No, what I'm saying is that it was a product of its place and time. I'm not questioning the artistic integrity of international productions, but pointing out that it really doesn't work as a franchise product that you can exploit past what it intended to be originally.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Ghostfan2 2012-07-24 00:29:14


I honestly hated the show. I was ready to walk out after the first 15 minutes, but I felt the same way about Les Miz when I first saw it and it grew on me. Rent never appealed to me for some reason. Everyone has different taste I guess.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-24 00:31:35


I think Alesandri was also totally [and this is a phrase I hate] spot on when he immediately followed "RANT" with an appearance by Anna from "The King & I" singing "Something Wonderful" as she looked at the characters who had just finished the RENT parody: "This is a show that stumbles and falls, but this is a show that tries." He was talking about the human heart that occasionally manages to beat beneath all the commerciality of mainstream corporate theatre production, and how so much of what succeeds doesn't even try. *That*, I thought, was a particularly insightful tip of the hat.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by BigMamaSangTenor 2012-07-24 02:28:17


Thank you "thegirlupstairs"

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by BigMamaSangTenor 2012-07-24 02:31:34


No need for arguments, wise women and men. You've all helped me to understand the show's main downfall: too much hype! Thank you, feel free to keep it going...it's really so intriguing to me.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by BigMamaSangTenor 2012-07-24 02:35:07


I did not like the movie adaptation, however, I did give it a chance and see it. "Saggy butt?" Really? I remember that scene, and can confidently say that if her rear is considered dated than there is certainly no hope for mine, whilst still in it's late teenage years...

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by ClapYo'Hands 2012-07-24 04:22:17


RENT is one of my favourite musicals and the thing about it for me (as cheesy as this sounds) is that it changes peoples lives. I went through my lower teenage years experiencing the effect that it had on other people my age. Something that no other show has really managed to do (except perhaps, in personal circumstances, Les Misérables).

In addition to this, I think the movie is great.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by jimmycurry01 2012-07-24 05:57:07


I love Rent. I think I have seen it four times on stage, which is the most I have seen any show without being involved in the production. I do believe that a vast majority of the dislike for the show is a reaction against the show's popularity with the masses.

A small percentage of the hate for Rent comes from the many errors in the book and other problems that would have been fixed had Larson not died first. Some of those glitches are very annoying and understandably difficult to get over.

The characters did change throughout the years as well, not all of them changed for the better, so some that started off loving Rent may have changer their minds as time went on. It certainly became less gritty as time went on. The stunt casting really did not help either, some of those choices were pretty bad.

Then there was Christopher Columbus' very misguided film. The film distanced many more fans for varying reasons. Fortunately we were offered Rent Filmed Live to replace that dreck.

I also agree that a lot of the hate stems from the show being the exact opposite of what the show stands for. Rent did most definitely sell out. The producers were more Benny than they were Mark. Unfortunately if you don't sell out you remain a poor nobody, so you have to do what you have to do.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by ClapYo'Hands 2012-07-24 06:44:15


And THAT'S show business ^^

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Posted by SporkGoddess 2012-07-24 09:42:03


There are SO MANY plot holes. I can't stand plot holes in anything. Read the Broadway Abridged script to see them pointed out.

Also, I mean some of the stuff the show glorifies or turns into comedy: stealing from ATMs, killing dogs, etc etc. Not to mention the characters going "ohhh, we're so poor" because they chose to lead the "Bohemian life" and then exploiting actual homeless people for their art.

I still love (most of) the show's music, though. I will admit to that.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by dramamama611 2012-07-24 12:23:11


My dislike of the show has nothing to do with it being "popular" -- I saw it very early in its run with the OBC.

I didn't find any of the lead characters likeable. I didn't like what the show was glorifying (casual sex, sloth, being owed something). I'm not saying there aren't people like this, but what was worth exhaulting? I never bought the love story. Lust and love are different. And don't get me started on the whole 'back from the dead' thang.

I had always said it was obvious there was a whole lot of talent on the stage. But the production was indeed flawed. One thing I'll point out that I haven't seen mentioned yet....I was so tired of being YELLED during the show. No matter whether they were singing a ballad, an up tempo or anything else, the actors were yelling at me and I just wanted to tune them out.

I understand that quite a bit of that got worked out eventually, but I was so unhappy with my first experience, that I never wanted to see it again. In fact, a number of years later a group that I was with chose to see it -- I went elsewhere and met up with them later.

I also think some of the derision you might hear about within the business is much of the "of course you were in Rent, wasn't EVERY b'way performer?" Just like there is a running of joke of sorts that gads of bway performers have a Law & Order credit in their bios (I think its L&O). So much of a 'joke' that Chris Sieber specifically mentions he has NEVER appeared on any version of it.



RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-24 14:24:00


But it's not like they are mocking that they were able to get work in RENT or the various Laws & Orders. I don't really understand why being in RENT is something that people would get mocked for. It just doesn't add up for me. It was a long run. It employed many people. So?

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by jimmycurry01 2012-07-24 14:40:11


It is true, when you think about it none of the characters, except for Angel are likeable. They are all lazy, selfish, and expect something for nothing. They have a sense of self entitlement. I think that is one of the many problems with the book, unfortunately that is something that would probably never have been fixed.

I think the reason I kept returning was because of the score, which I loved, and the high energy on stage. Sadly the film and the most resent tour lacked that energy and were less enjoyable.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by dramamama611 2012-07-24 14:41:23


To be honest, I've never heard of it being made fun of within the industry.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by blaxx 2012-07-24 14:49:33


"I thought you wanted to do a good show? If you wanted to do a bad show, why don't we just do ReNt?" - Peter Griffin, FAMILY GUY

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Posted by SporkGoddess 2012-07-24 15:07:42


blaxx: Haha, I used to quote that a lot.

Angel is the only "good" person in the show, but she pretty much lacks a personality and only serves to make the characters feel better about themselves or do better things. She's like... the transgender equivalent of the "Magical Negro" trope.

Except for killing the dog, of course!

a mostly objective (but also from a subjective)perspective
Posted by Phyllis Rogers Stone 2012-07-24 15:13:03


I think to people who don't think to much about it, it's a valid credit as any.

"For me, the pacing is really weird. The first act takes place in three hours, and then the second act jumps around for nine months."

And actually, it's one of the things that worked so well onstage, but fell so flat in the movie - urgency. The events of act one are a whirlwind onstage, but stretching it out over three days, like we're waiting for the Resurrection or something, in the movie is just just deadening.

And I love to criticize ReNt as much as the next, but I've never denied how much I got out of it when I was younger. As long as I don't have to pretend I like the movie (it hurts soooo much every time I try to give it another chance), seeing a great production of it onstage, warts and all, can be really thrilling.

The "so much hate" is so strawmanny, anyway. Because it has set up something that wasn't even there. I feel the every other thread about ReNt that we've had on this board alone has covered just about everything can be said about renT. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I feel myself typing the same things over and over. Play good, sometimes productions bad. Movie bad. Make Phyllis sad.

I think sometimes the majority of the youth - or population really - that has only seen or listened to a handful of musicals in general and therefore love the production's catchy tunes. The productions tunes, you see, are quite and indeed so lovable.

Marcy Harriell was the best Mimi ever. Can't wait to see her on stage and dvd... ReNt.... MarCy...

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by uncageg 2012-07-24 15:15:04


I saw the first national tour and it was everything I hoped it would be. The next 3 times I saw it, not so much. That was the movie, the 'FINAL" b'way performance and that final tour. The filming of the "final" performance was awful and the final tour was too loud and played more like a rock concert.

When the revival came around I was excited especially since they brought the creative team back onboard. I have to say that after seeing it a few times, I really came to like the revival. I am sad to see it close. Love the set and it has had good cast members. My only problem with the orchestrations is the tempo of "I'll Cover You" in Act 1. Too slow and adult contemporary sounding. RENT is one of my favorite scores.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by jv92 2012-07-24 15:22:26


I suppose there's a little snob in me, since loud, obnoxious, poorly written rock shows like RENT and SPRING AWAKENING didn't affect me in my younger days. Instead, I found them shallow, loud, obnoxious and poorly written. I was singing along to the cast albums of GREY GARDENS and FOLLIES instead. Why did I like unhappy, middle aged people and not sexy, good-looking young people? God only knows.

I'm glad RENT brought some people to the theater and got some people interested in the theater. The problem is, most of them think RENT (and its kind) are the only things in the theater worth seeing and listening to.



RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by mjroberts972 2012-07-24 15:23:04


People on these message boards usually just hate any show that is somewhat popular even if it is a fantastic show. They will always find the flaws and never pay attention to the fact that it is a brilliant show.

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Posted by uncageg 2012-07-24 15:33:37


JV92, I think one can like all four of the shows you mentioned. I know I do.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by jv92 2012-07-24 15:44:47


Well, uncageg, I'm glad to hear that. I wish there were more theatergoers like you with eclectic tastes in show music.

For the record, though, I thought NEXT TO NORMAL was ridiculously good, and saw it about six times, simply because it was refreshing and interestingly told. I didn't think it shoved youth down the audience's throats like other "pop/rock shows" do. It dealt with grown-up issues in a very mature way. So I'm not really an old fogey.

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Posted by Mildred Plotka 2012-07-24 15:53:08


I enjoy Rent. Is it the masterpiece some people consider it to be? Probably not.

The fans are my main issue with this show. I'm seeing a production in Seattle next week and the Rent-Heads are what I'm dreading.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by CarlosAlberto 2012-07-24 16:00:21


WTF is up with spelling this show's title "ReNt"...does the "N" on your keyboards get stuck when you type it out?

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Posted by Owen22 2012-07-24 16:01:51


After seeing David Cromer's recent Chicago GREATEST PRODUCTION OF RENT THERE HAS BEEN OR EVER WILL BE I talked to an early 30 something friend who said you go through different Rent stages: loving Rent, Rent-heading Rent, tiring of Rent, hating Rent and then out of nowhere something reminds you of Rent and nostalgia and age put you back somewhere in the middle, but closer to loving it.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by uncageg 2012-07-24 16:02:28


I thought "Next to Normal" was ok. I hated the music when I first heard it but enjoyed it a bit more while seeing the show. I saw it on tour in Denver. Her voice was not what it was on the recording. It worked for a few of the songs but you could tell her voice was really tired. She hit a few bad notes also. But it is still not a favorite of mine.

Mildred, I am one of those who consider it to be a masterpiece, musically.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Phyllis Rogers Stone 2012-07-24 16:18:15


CarlosAberto, reNt is the best movie ever can't wait to see it on stage and dvd .... reNt...

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-24 16:39:14


"The problem is, most of them think RENT (and its kind) are the only things in the theater worth seeing and listening to."


I don't know if you can ever get in somebody else's head, let alone most of "them," to know these things. That's just something you're making up.

I hope I get arthritis before I ever type a quote from "Family Guy" to reinforce my side of any argument on any topic ever in the rest of the history of the universe.

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Posted by Mister Matt 2012-07-24 16:45:29


This thread poses so many interesting questions:

Not to mention the characters going "ohhh, we're so poor" because they chose to lead the "Bohemian life" and then exploiting actual homeless people for their art.

I thought the scene between Mark and the homeless woman addressed that irony rather brilliantly. Mark is obviously an idealist and his naive hypocrisy is highlighted as part of his journey.

I also think some of the derision you might hear about within the business is much of the "of course you were in Rent, wasn't EVERY b'way performer?"

That has less to do with Rent than every long-running show ever, especially those that ran longer than Rent.

They are all lazy, selfish, and expect something for nothing. They have a sense of self entitlement.

How so? Benny reneged on the deal he made with Mark and Roger not only threatening to kick them out if they don't start paying rent, but demanding back rent for the time they were told they could stay for free. The expectation was placed by Benny, not Mark and Roger. At that point, it becomes an issue of principles, not self-entitlement.

I never bought the love story. Lust and love are different.

But not mutually exclusive. At least, not in the case of my current relationship, which sounds like you might consider invalid for not following some preconceived timeline of events. Which love stories do you buy into? The sexless ones? Love at first sight, but no touchy-touchy? It's pretty clear that Roger and Mimi struggle with their feelings towards each other throughout the show until the end. Tom and Angel celebrate their attraction to each other, yet there is no mention of lust or sex.

And don't get me started on the whole 'back from the dead' thang.

Again, she was unconscious, not dead.

I didn't like what the show was glorifying (casual sex, sloth, being owed something).

At what point does Rent glorify sloth or being owed something? I didn't see laziness being celebrated anywhere and the only person claiming they were owed anything was Benny, which was the opposite of glorification. As for casual sex, Rent addresses sex (though not specifically casual sex), but doesn't really glorify it, but I can only assume you must really hate Hair.

The only real point of contention I see is Angel killing the dog, but that whole number is a direct reference to La Boheme where a parrot was killed instead of a dog. I don't think the show is any more about self-entitlement or laziness than Caroline, or Change is about schizophrenia because Caroline's appliances talk to her. The funny thing is, La Boheme is far less palatable in its story and characters' behavior (which were lightened quite a bit for Rent). Do opera lovers hate La Boheme for these reasons as well? I'm not an opera-phile or anything so I don't know if this is a common argument among them.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by CarlosAlberto 2012-07-24 16:52:33


LOL @ Phyllis. Is it reNt or is it ReNt?

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Phyllis Rogers Stone 2012-07-24 16:54:06


your own body tells you as you type!

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by EricMontreal22 2012-07-24 16:58:11


"I'm glad RENT brought some people to the theater and got some people interested in the theater. The problem is, most of them think RENT (and its kind) are the only things in the theater worth seeing and listening to. "

I'm not sure that's true. I'd wager that more than not, the Rentheads or whatever they are called grew into theatre fans in general, if they weren't before. Like you, I grew up blasting Follies over Rent, even when I was 10. But it didn't mean I couldn't appreciate Rent for what it was. I only saw it on stage once, in London about a year into its run, but, overall, I loved it.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-24 17:00:39


I agree with the questions Mister Matt asks.

I wish this culture didn't clamp down so hard on admissions that lust and casual sex are fun and liberating things.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Mister Matt 2012-07-24 17:02:15


I'm glad RENT brought some people to the theater and got some people interested in the theater. The problem is, most of them think RENT (and its kind) are the only things in the theater worth seeing and listening to.

Yeah, I've never encountered that. And I'm not sure what "(and its kind)" refers to. Shows that got people interested in theatre? Rock musicals? Musicals of the 1995-96 season? Categories of the $25,000 Pyramid?

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Phyllis Rogers Stone 2012-07-24 17:06:31


Lust is such a weird word.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by EricMontreal22 2012-07-24 17:08:20


Exactly. IMHO it's just a lazy example of stereotyping, but one I've seen before, but never experienced as true. And I don't even get the love/lust angle--shows shouldn't show a romance that springs out of lust? Somehow such a relationship is beneath a pure romance? Didn't Romeo and Juliet experience lust more than love?

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Mister Matt 2012-07-24 17:15:38


Funny thing is, the one number about sex, Contact, explores a much broader range of emotions regarding sex ultimately ending with discomfort, awkwardness and resentment. Hardly what I'd call "glorification". And just in case we go there, I don't think Rent glorifies drug use, either.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by SonofRobbieJ 2012-07-24 17:21:01


Anyone who can't get on board with lust and casual sex is someone I don't want to know!

I think the structure of RENT is rather brilliant, in that the first act practically fetishizes one perfect night, and then, in comparison, the next year is a blur and off-kilter. There's something wonderfully true about that. RENT absolutely brought a new audience to the theatre (no matter how annoying some might find that audience). I'd also argue that without RENT, there's no NEXT TO NORMAL, SPRING AWAKENING or any mayriad of new shows that explore alternative musical forms in the theatre.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-24 17:40:25


And I think it encouraged people to try different approaches, I know there are people who hated Passing Strange, though I can't figure out why, but thank god they really tried something different. It was another show that stumbled but it was another show that tried.

I think there might be some level of embarrassment when some people look back and recall HOW enthusiASTIC they were about ReNT. It's not uncommon for people to back away from their first loves as they grow up. I myself may have been for a while something close to ashamed over how much I loved and thought about Godspell circa '72-'73 when I was 11. Do you want to know how hard it was to keep up to date on the doings of the cast on the first recording when there was no internet?

By the time of the off-bway REnT reboot it was nice to just see the show with the creative team trying to look at it with new eyes.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Kad 2012-07-24 17:43:44


How many times a year does this topic come up, anyway?

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Mister Matt 2012-07-24 17:47:27


I think the structure of RENT is rather brilliant, in that the first act practically fetishizes one perfect night, and then, in comparison, the next year is a blur and off-kilter.

And Seasons of Love is a prologue for the narrative of the second act! I thought that was genius.

As for the comments on the commercialization of Rent, I do agree that the producers went off the rails later in the run, but I never felt that way about the show from the start. Nor could I find that a fault with the show itself. I chalk it up to the inherent hypocrisy of art and the post-mortem abandonment of an artist's intentions, which is pretty common. Not that I believe for a second Jonathan Larson never wanted a commercial Broadway hit. There wasn't much correlation between Mark's "sellout" and Rent's success. The devolution of the production was as much anti-Rent as the film and the London revival, Rent Remixed. I don't think any of that had to do with Larson, how the show was written, or originally staged and produced. It was a juggernaut of success, but it probably would have been whether Larson died or not. It was the right show at the right time which is how hits are usually created.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-24 17:53:54


Also, I don't think the show didn't include its own internal critique of the "you must be pure in artistic intent and never sell out" that every outsider artist from the Beats to the hipsters has wrestled with. I think it's funny that everybody just assumes that the ambitious Larson wrote a bunch of people who are completely together and unambiguous and not conflicted about their needs and desires.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Mister Matt 2012-07-24 18:11:02


The show is about struggles, internal and external, and how these characters react to them in various ways. I find most of the objections towards the morality of the show take individual scenes completely out of context (like the ATM rewiring). Except maybe for the dog.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by SporkGoddess 2012-07-24 18:19:27


How is the ATM wiring taken out of context? And how is that okay even in context?

I'm not really cool with his destroying valuable MIT equipment, either.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by My Oh My 2012-07-24 18:22:18


I still remember when the show opened and people were either generally confused by it or intrigued. The confused grew to hate it and the intrigued ended up seeing it a billion times.

One thing in common amongst those who don't care for it, is they feel it's an over-stylized, often rambly, over-idealistic piece. Maybe it never got on my nerves because I never did see it as a literal depiction of any group of real-life people but more as each character being a larger than life etching of a specific social theme. Rent's biggest problem lies in its naivete regarding HIV/AIDS. I wouldn't say it ruins the show, but it does mar its credibility, which is why I always viewed it as a reflection of the general misconception held by society about HIV/AIDS. The stigma it promotes is tiresome these days because you'd think we'd know better by now. I admit I cringe every time Mark announces how April left a note saying "We've got AIDS," and the resulting hopelessness.

I do like the show, though, despite its flaws. It works. And I enjoy its colorful (sometimes BAD) lyrics that must've been written while high on something. They reek of that mindset/state. Not that it's bad. That, along with the music, is a sort of guilty pleasure of mine. Larson is remarkable for giving each character conversational lyrics that are highly individualized. Plus I'm attracted to the quirky and odd and Rent delivers.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-24 18:41:48


To those of you who like the show, I think those of us (not everyone here, but quite a few) who admit we reacted negatively to the hype are also admitting by implication that RENT was better than we thought it was or would be.

In that vein, I'll also admit that having grown up in the 60s, I was all too familiar with "bohemian" rebellion against commercialism and convention, and how such movements can lead to Ronald Reagan. So when young people in the 90s started singing to me about bohemian ideals, I could only think, "Just wait a decade or two and get back to me when you're living in Scarsdale."

Just to be clear, the preceding is NOT a fair criticism of the show. Each generation should be allowed its own expression of rebellion. It was just my personal reaction upon seeing the show in my 40s; and, I suspect, the reaction of a lot of older theatergoers.





RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-24 18:41:57


I don't understand what you mean about its naivete regarding HIV/AIDS.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Mister Matt 2012-07-24 18:51:09


Yeah, I didn't get that either. Feelings of depression and hopelessness associated with contracting HIV hadn't dissipated by 1996. A friend of mine died from AIDS in 1995 and another contemplated suicide when diagnosed with HIV in 2001.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by exedore 2012-07-24 18:52:14


At this point, I find Rent kind of like an ex I've parted amicably with. It's nice to catch up and revisit as friends, but the passionate, burning love isn't there anymore. The show still means a lot to me, and I do try to see it whenever it runs near where I am (barring student/youth productions), but it's not what it used to be for me, which is a bit sad, though some of that also comes with the excitement of being able to crack the shell on some of Larson's other work...

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by dramamama611 2012-07-24 19:45:59


I totally understand that analogy! I have a few in my closet as well.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by My Oh My 2012-07-24 20:20:24


"Yeah, I didn't get that either. Feelings of depression and hopelessness associated with contracting HIV hadn't dissipated by 1996. A friend of mine died from AIDS in 1995 and another contemplated suicide when diagnosed with HIV in 2001."

Nobody *gets* AIDS. The thing April *got* was HIV, which later developed into AIDS. It may seem like a minor, negligible detail but it isn't. Especially in anything that also serves to educate. It's appalling the number of people today who still think one *catches* AIDS. This misinformation (generally speaking, not necessarily because of Rent) is responsible for recent cases that involve discrimination against HIV positive individuals by institutions that should know better. There is still that stigma of your typical AIDS victim bringing it upon his/herself due to their lack of morals. Rent only strengthens those messages. Sure, it portrays a hetero, HIV positive couple...who also just happen to be drug addicts and one of them is a loose go-go dancer who doesn't concern herself with possibly spreading it. Meanwhile all of those who are not gay or addicts are "clean."

The problem lies in its advancement of old stigmas and fear mongering. It's unsettling that the one Broadway musical that is said to "enlighten" us about HIV/AIDS ends up not doing anything of the sort. Exposing the issue is not the same thing as shedding light upon it. It even goes on to have it exposed via a group of people who are perceived as being grossly negligent and rebellious.

To me, the character of Angel redeems the piece and makes it work. I personally enjoy and am moved by the way the underdog ends up achieving depth and a wisdom by virtue of his outlook and approach to life. The contrast upon death in relation to the others is stunning and a poignant lesson that is universal unexpectedly comes out of the tragedy. The fact such a powerful effect is borne out of a character usually treated as a freak show plays a large role in how it affects me. I know I personally was moved not because "awwww, he died," but because I ended up feeling a genuine affection for the character and everything he is. It's rare to find in the portrayal of such people a humanity that takes precedence over the superficial things we focus on and that simple, but powerful lesson he left behind makes him linger. The effect is both haunting and enlightening and the most effective lessons have a way of staying with us.

It would have been a better piece had it done the same with HIV/AIDS. And in my opinion, should have ended at Angel's death.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by SporkGoddess 2012-07-24 20:45:21


In all fairness, saying "His girlfriend April left a note saying 'We've got HIV'" wouldn't flow as well.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by My Oh My 2012-07-24 21:32:52


Call me nuts, but I actually think it flows better!

"...saying we've got H. I. V., before slitting her wrists in the bathroom."

"AIDS" not only doesn't follow logically, it feels as if there needs to be an additional beat there that "H.I.V." provides! =)

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Mister Matt 2012-07-24 21:46:34


I never assumed April was supposed to be particularly enlightened. It's one line about what a fictional character wrote on a piece of paper.

...and one of them is a loose go-go dancer who doesn't concern herself with possibly spreading it.

That's an assumption, not something in the script or the staging.

There is still that stigma of your typical AIDS victim bringing it upon his/herself due to their lack of morals. Rent only strengthens those messages.

I think the stigma exists for those who believe that to be true and especially for those who WANT those stigmas to exist to make their lives and sense of morality easier, but I didn't attach those stigmas to any of those characters nor did I ever feel the show expressly reinforced them.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-24 22:39:38


This misinformation (generally speaking, not necessarily because of Rent) is responsible for recent cases that involve discrimination against HIV positive individuals by institutions that should know better.

Okay, I'm calling you out on this and would like to see citations of these recent cases you mention. I'm not saying you're not right, I'm just saying it sounds like something you're making up to bolster your argument.

I can also assure you that drug injectors who lived on the streets back then, and even some now, often found out they had full-blown AIDS the first time they presented at the emergency rooms with symptoms they had been living with for a long time. Actually, my ex-lover got pneumonia and ended up in the hospital and found out he had AIDS then. It was 1996, and it was AIDS. He was an educated white homosexual who had never been a drug user and never tested for HIV. So I just don' think it's that egregious to have a single reference to getting AIDS.

It's interesting that you are angry that the gay couple and the straight addict couple are the ones who get HIV and then you go on and on about how much you were moved by Angel. It's not because you saw something special, it's because it was written that way.

What Larson was smart enough to do was to give the characters who are most at risk for acquiring HIV, HIV. I suppose there could have been a straight character who had NO IDEA how she got it or something, but that's false drama in a world of people living with real drama.

When the show first opened I was a little startled by what seemed to be Angel's sero-sorting in his choice of a partner. Once he knew Collins and he were seroconcordant he said they'd "get along fine." That was a VERY long time before gay men were discussing this as a tool they use in their HIV prevention arsenal.

I mean, if you're looking to dig deeper that the sin of saying they got AIDS.




RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by My Oh My 2012-07-24 22:50:49


True, and I'm sure that's why I can't hate it. I added my own subjective thoughts and was in no way claiming them to be objective or inherent to the work. I'm sure Larson didn't intend to imply anything that could lead to misinformation.

Citation: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/13-year-old-honor-student-with-hiv-denied-admission-by-private-school/discrimination/2011/12/01/31069

That's one. How many more would you like?

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Phyllis Rogers Stone 2012-07-24 23:07:10


I know when people kill themselves, the first thing I do is critique the language they used in their suicide note.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by My Oh My 2012-07-24 23:14:36


Sorry. My previous post was in response to Mister Matt. And the citation is for FindingNamo.

I'm confused by what you mean by "that's how the show was written"? I didn't claim to see something that can't be reasonably interpreted from the material. I didn't claim to have a religious experience nor was it a life changing event. I was moved. Moved by the inferences I subjectively gathered from the material. I clearly said that was how and why it affected ME like it did. I did not say that's what it set out to do in everyone else.

Nor am I even remotely "angry" at anything. Sorry if you got that from what I wrote, but nah. I'm aiight.

I'm a bit worried about you, though. :S

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-24 23:16:11


I concede that it's a recent case, but are you saying the notion that "got AIDS" implies a some kind of difference in the school's decision that "got HIV" would not have had?

HIV is transmittable and it is the virus that causes AIDS. I really don't think a show written in the early '90s has to "get it right" in the 20-10s. The way "The Normal Heart" realllllllllllllly got it wrong by 1995.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by jv92 2012-07-24 23:24:53


Eric, in response to your response to my "If only Rentheads could love Sondheim and HELLO, DOLLY! too..." remark:

I had a friend who loved RENT. Other than the Disney films of the late 80s and early 90s and THE SOUND OF MUSIC, he had never been exposed to musicals. I thought to myself, "Hey! If he really likes this show about a certain group of New Yorkers, maybe he'll love ANOTHER show about ANOTHER group...COMPANY." So I leant him my copy of the CD and he proceeded to say very little about it, until I finally asked him his honest opinion. "Well, it's not RENT." He thought Patti LuPone's "Everything's Coming Up Roses" was too "over the top" on the Tony Awards. (Compared to RENT?)

But that's just my one experience and was perhaps too broad a generalization. He's in college now and I haven't talked to him in a while, but I hope he's exposing himself to other theater, since he IS a theater major after all.

I am sure there are other young people who have matured into intelligent theatergoers. Sorry for the generalization.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by My Oh My 2012-07-24 23:33:46


"I know when people kill themselves, the first thing I do is critique the language they used in their suicide note."

I don't care if that note was written by my own mother, I'd have mentally corrected her upon reading it. XD

It doesn't make sense to denote mental distress by spreading misinformation on an often misunderstood condition, however innocently, especially when the distress is made abundantly clear by suicide. And I doubt Larson chose "AIDS" in a strategic effort to suggest April's distress.

And it's quite ambitious to suggest insensitivity towards those who off themselves when I'm clearly critiquing the writing of the show's creator.

Nice try.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by My Oh My 2012-07-24 23:43:45


"I concede that it's a recent case, but are you saying the notion that "got AIDS" implies a some kind of difference in the school's decision that "got HIV" would not have had?

HIV is transmittable and it is the virus that causes AIDS. I really don't think a show written in the early '90s has to "get it right" in the 20-10s. The way "The Normal Heart" realllllllllllllly got it wrong by 1995."


I'm not scolding Rent or the late Jonathan Larson for "getting it wrong." I didn't even say he objectively got anything wrong. I said I do not enjoy some of the inferences made by the words he chose.

I also stated that I'm not solely blaming Rent or its writer for any stigmas. But they don't help to curtail those stigmas. That's as far as I went regarding influence. To suggest Rent is responsible for injustices such as the one at the Hersey school would be a tad delusional, I would think, lol.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by yankeefan7 2012-07-25 11:06:57


A Director - Excellent reply, agree 100%.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by broadwayfever 2012-07-25 15:53:42


Here are some basic facts about Rent:

Rent had a 12-year run and 5,124 performances, making it the ninth-longest-running Broadway show.

The production grossed over $280 million.

It won 4 Tony's including Best Musical and Best Score.

It has been performed in 24 different languages.

...most musicals can only dream of doing what Rent has already done.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by newintown 2012-07-25 16:24:11


You could say similar things about Cats and Phantom, but I don't think either is good.

Popular /= Good.

Now, if you want to evaluate the show's quality with a qualitative argument (what you think is good about it), rather than using the capitalist argument, that's another thing entirely.











RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by EricMontreal22 2012-07-25 16:53:01


JV, that's more than fair, and I shouldn't have implied that your own personal experiences weren't true. I jumped on your comment because I have heard that generalization before, and I guess it irks me and is one that personally I don't think is all that accurate, but that's from my own experience.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GlindatheGood22 2012-07-25 16:55:31


My first experience with Rent was the movie, which I absolutely hate. A few years later I saw the Off-Broadway production and listened to the OBCR, which also left me cold. I guess it comes down to a matter of taste- I just don't care for the score or the plot or the characters.

HOWEVER, Rent is show that is very much at the mercy of its actors. I saw Emma Hunton as Maureen, and she made the show largely bearable for me. But Rent as an enterprise is getting very, very tired. I know the really great shows live forever, but this one just won't die. Call me unromantic, but I refuse to believe it's because of its timeless message of hope and community blah blah blah. Rent remained on Broadway for the sole purpose of making money. I recognize that that's the main reason any show opens on Broadway, but it long outstayed its welcome, becoming a tired old relic of a production. Then it was revived for the same reason, with nothing new to add to the show.

I think the producers of the revival hoped it would be like the Hair revival - an old show that was given new life and vibrance and urgency. Here's the thing: it's just never going to happen, at least not within the next decade. Give it twenty or thirty years and it could be revived as a semi-relevant museum piece. As for Rent and the AIDS epidemic, it is not even in the realm of plays of Angels in America or even The Normal Heart. When I saw those productions I felt energized and compelled to do something, sort of a "Why does nobody care?!" reaction. Rent stirred no such feelings in me, because it's simply not as good a show.

I respect the intentions of Larson and those involved with the original production, but have very different feelings who turned it into a tired old cash cow of a show. And of course I have nothing against most of the fans, but the ones who screech about how "revolutionary" and "amazing" Rent is are the ones I'd count as annoying.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by TheHappyPhantom 2012-07-25 17:32:10


My issues with RENT are as follows:

1. The music. Larson hits all the academic bases, but his lyrics are HORRIBLY cliche'. "Will I wake tomorrow from this nightmare?" Oldest cliche analogy in the book. So of course, they repeat it about 100 times. Roger's lines are also particularly bad. It's exactly what I would expect a theatre person to think a rocker sounds like. His lyrics are amateurish and flat.

2. Not a single character, except Roger is a victim. I'm sorry, but I don't feel sorry for a bunch of slutty, drug addicts. Do they deserve AIDS? No. Did they have it coming? Yep.

3. I don't get to know Angel nearly well enough to give a damn when he dies. The first act taking place in one night is tricky to pull off, and in the end, I think it shoots them in the foot. Because everything character related feels rushed. I never buy Angel and Collin's relationship. Again, it's too rushed. There's nothing to support Mimi being Angel's best friend, as she claims to be at his funeral, and her relationship with Roger is rushed. Almost to a Disney level or meeting and falling in love.

4. The corny as hell ending. Mimi just wakes up... out of no where, for no reason. Umm

I by no means hate the show, but I have no emotional response to it.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by SporkGoddess 2012-07-25 18:08:23


Wait, how is Roger a victim? He was a drug addict, too.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Phyllis Rogers Stone 2012-07-25 18:16:58


I think thinking someone deserves something and thinking that had it coming are pretty much the same thing.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by TheHappyPhantom 2012-07-25 18:24:29


"Wait, how is Roger a victim? He was a drug addict, too."


Oh, you're right. Then, yeah. There are no victims, and I feel for none of them.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Phyllis Rogers Stone 2012-07-25 18:26:17


Because they had it coming?

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-25 18:27:26


^^^^My thought as well. I'm guessing HappyPhantom means they contributed to their own misfortune rather than morally deserving a potentially fatal condition, but I'm not sure.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-25 18:29:08


"Not a single character, except Roger is a victim. I'm sorry, but I don't feel sorry for a bunch of slutty, drug addicts. Do they deserve AIDS? No. Did they have it coming? Yep."

My work for the past 20 years has focused on HIV in the areas of prevention and research. I hate to be prejudiced, but I just know you are somebody I would never want to be friends with.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by TheHappyPhantom 2012-07-25 18:31:06


Gaveston understood my post.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by wonderfulwizard11 2012-07-25 18:32:01


Which characters, exactly, do you consider "slutty drug addicts"? Yes, Roger and Mimi are drug addicts, but I don't think much of anything is really mentioned about their sex lives, so I don't how either of them could be seen as sluts. Same for Collins and Angel, unless you're conflating "slutty" with gay.

Really, the only character that could be at all considered a slut in any way is Maureen, who is one of the few characters that doesn't have AIDS (not that her sexuality would be the reason for it anyway).

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-25 18:37:13


Just to be clear, I don't find characters or real-life human beings less sympathetic because they are human, make errors and suffer misfortune. Per Aristotle, ALL tragic agents miscalculate and cause their own suffering; a random misfortune doesn't inspire the same pity and fear in us.

The only "perfectly innocent" victims (in the theater or in real life) are animals and children.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by TheHappyPhantom 2012-07-25 18:39:34


Well, there's Mimi, whom you seem to have forgotten. And, yes, I was considering Collin's and Angel as well. Safe sex was around at that time. The line during the orgy where they say "rubber, bummer" is a direct reference to them ignoring safe sex practices. Also, I'm gay. So, no I'm not associating gay with slutty.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by wonderfulwizard11 2012-07-25 18:42:21


Except having unprotected sex does not make one slutty. It's not a wise decision, obviously, but it doesn't turn a person into some kind of harlot. And as for Mimi, the fact that she works as a stripper doesn't mean that the character is promiscuous in real life.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by broadwayfever 2012-07-25 18:42:49


@Newintown and the rest of you philosophers.

-You guys are looking way too much into this. Some of you are worse than the critics who said Wicked would never make it on Broadway because they also tried to philosophize way too much.

Rent has been so successful because of the amazing music and the touching story...It's as simple as that. So there's no need to delve into a lot of theory and write a 10 page report as to why YOU believe it was or wasn't a great musical.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by TheHappyPhantom 2012-07-25 18:45:06


Yeah...ok.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Phyllis Rogers Stone 2012-07-25 18:45:35


The line during the orgy where they say "rubber, bummer" is a direct reference to them ignoring safe sex practices.

No, it's expressing frustration with what's required to have safer sex. Why would it be a bummer if they are ignoring it?

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-25 18:46:09


Is your scroll bar not working, fever? Why do these posts bother you so much?

I barely know the show well enough to contribute, but I'm enjoying the discussion all the same.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by TheHappyPhantom 2012-07-25 18:48:15


No, it's expressing frustration with what's required to have safer sex. Why would it be a bummer if they are ignoring it?


The interpretations I've seen, make the word "bummer" their way of saying no, they aren't going to use it. And given the makeup of the cast, they clearly not doing something right.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-25 18:51:02


"Gaveston understood my post."

What a coincidence. I decided a long time ago I wouldn't want him for a friend either.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Phyllis Rogers Stone 2012-07-25 18:51:36


What was wrong with their make-up? Did it get smudged during the "orgy"?

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-25 19:51:55


"Gaveston understood my post."

What a coincidence. I decided a long time ago I wouldn't want him for a friend either.


I merely interpreted a particular word choice of his. I've already said I don't agree with his point. As so often happens, I actually agree with you on the issue of who is "deserving".

Your inability to let go of a grudge--even after you've received numerous public and private apologies--ultimately hurts you more than those of us who are the targets of your unending scorn. I'm sorry you are so unhappy, Namo.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by dramamama611 2012-07-25 19:56:51


Bway fever -- the thread exists to inquire about why there are people that hate the show. Would you rather people just say, "It sucks?"

This has been one of the most on topic, thoughtful and interesting discussions this board has seen.

If you can't handle your precious show being discussed, don't read the thread.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Phyllis Rogers Stone 2012-07-25 20:00:06


Is philosophize the word you really want to use up there?

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by BigMamaSangTenor 2012-07-25 20:23:25


DramaMama and Galveston, and really the rest of you thank you for contributing to the conversation. I find all sides compelling. And...I actually prefer thoughtful posts but then again, who wouldn't. I am once again rambling. Sorry, anyway carry on and thanks again!

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-25 20:29:38


You are welcome, BigMama, but the pleasure was actually mine.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by EricMontreal22 2012-07-25 20:43:58


I just can't about this "rubber, bummer" line. But I can't stop myself--Namo is spot on, IMHO, and it seems beyond obvious. The line is about the added complication or "annoyance" about having to use a condom, but I think it means they are using them (honestly, I don't even remember who says the line). Why would they even mention it--particularly with that phrase, if they weren't? I've never heard bummer used to mean "no", or "not going to do that". It's slang for "too bad" IMHO, but a begrudging acceptance of the situation (ie "too bad we have to use condoms, but that's what you have to do").

I need stop here. Oh and anyone would be lucky to have such a well spoken, considerate, and fair poster as Gaveston as a friend, online or not.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by EricMontreal22 2012-07-25 20:48:44


As for the idea that we shouldn't care about the characters in Rent or even wanna watch them because "they had their it coming"... I just don't understand that mentality, on many levels. But taking the reality of the situation out of it, and what a damaging view I think that is to have (as is the view of them as victims, to be fair), in the context of a piece of theatre I don't know why it's relevant. But as some others have said, I don't go to the theatre to watch perfectly nice people whose actions I completely agree with--I've never understood why "the characters are unlikeable and I wouldn't want to have them at a dinner party" is a critique that means anything to anyone. I wouldn't want Sweeney Todd over for dinner (though apparently the pies he'd bring are damn good), and he had his "fate" coming too, I suppose, but it still makes for exciting theatre. Same with half the characters in Company--to talk about people who are, like in Rent, perhaps too self absorbed, but not murderers.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-25 21:22:56


I can't agree with Eric more. Tennessee Williams wrote a great essay entitled, "The Timeless World of a Play", in which he basically argues that if we met Willie Loman in real life, we would treat him just as badly as Howard does. It's only because we voluntarily agree to spend two-plus hours with Loman that we come to see him with more compassion than we would feel if he interrupted our daily life. It's a question of time and focus invested.

I've always argued the same could be said of Blanche DuBois. If she were holed up in your bathroom or mine, we would find her just as annoying as Stanley does; and "I don't want reality, I want magic!" wouldn't be charming, it would be the self-serving cry of a freeloader.

Now this doesn't mean that any individual has to like the characters in RENT. That's a personal choice. But the fact that they have made mistakes in the past and make additional mistakes during the course of the action doesn't make them fundamentally different than any other dramatic characters.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-25 21:25:51


Oh and anyone would be lucky to have such a well spoken, considerate, and fair poster as Gaveston as a friend, online or not.

Thank you, Eric. It's been rather chilly here of late. But since the original offense was unintended and the ongoing feud is entirely one-sided, I'm interested in how long it can go on.

Whether he likes it or not, FindingNamo and I are much more likely to agree than to disagree.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Reginald Tresilian 2012-07-25 21:28:52


For the very little it's worth, I like you both.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-25 21:44:13


It's worth a lot, Regi, thank you. And I like Namo very much. I'm still hoping ours is a temporary misunderstanding that can be resolved.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-25 21:59:19


Choose, Reg. Choose.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Phyllis Rogers Stone 2012-07-25 22:03:29


Come on guys, chill.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by ZoeTheGoat 2012-07-25 22:21:53


I really like RENT. I don't care that it didn't too as much for the gays/AIDS movement as other shows did (i.e. Angels in America). I didn't watch RENT then run out and donate a **** ton of money to some AIDS organization. But it DID move me, and I still enjoy listening to the music. I enjoyed being a part of the RENT community. It was fun. We all know the movie sucked.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by SporkGoddess 2012-07-25 22:57:18


I dunno, I think with RENT the characters are more insufferable because they seem to think they're cooler than everyone else for living the lifestyle that they do. Well, at least Mark does. Maybe I just hate Mark?

You have to remember that most of these characters got HIV before anyone really knew how it was transmitted. I think that anyone with an HIV is a victim regardless of how they got it. I dislike the characters more for their personalities. Like I said, Mark and probably Maureen are the ones I dislike the most, and they don't have HIV.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by EricMontreal22 2012-07-25 23:04:58


I guess I'm just not sure I like the term victim--for personal reasons--but certainly I don't think they "had it coming". ANyway it's really kind a amoot poit, but it is meant to be set around 1995 right? (I honestly can't remember at all...), when certainly people knew more about the use of condoms and dangers of infection from IV drug use --and I didn't think the characters were meant to have had HIV for all that long (at least Roger-- although that might not be true of Collins and Angel).

At any rate, I do agree about Mark, who I find pretty insufferable, too. I always thought we were kinda meant to feel that way, at least until near the end of the show when he seems to get a bit more self awareness.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by SporkGoddess 2012-07-25 23:16:21


Oh, really? I thought we're supposed to identify with him. He is the one who starts singing RENT's anthem, "La Vie Boheme" If we're supposed to find him insufferable though, then good job, show!

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by EricMontreal22 2012-07-25 23:24:37


LOL well maybe that's just my view... I do think, obviously, we're introduced into the world of the show largely through his eyes, but I don't think those two things have to go hand in hand.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-26 00:09:05


The thing about people like them, include me and my friends in our younger and more vulnerable years, they DO think they're cooler than everybody else. The hipper-than-thou attitude is starting to crack after the death of Angel, ("It must be nice to have money," "No ****!") and the missing Mimi. They're kind of really getting what's important.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by sunnyleo 2012-07-26 01:06:40


It puts me to sleep. Characters are unlikeable. Has a terrible score (except for one song). And just because something is super-popular doesn't make me hate it (i.e Wicked)

Isn't is better to be nine people's favourite thing than a hundred people's ninth favourite thing? You can't please everyone.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by andi1235 2012-07-26 13:32:30


Personally, I like Rent fine. It's not my favorite show ever, but it's by no stretch my least favorite, either. I was never a Renthead and I didn't find it revelatory or anything.

I saw Rent with my family during a NYC trip sometime during the first year of its run, when I was 17 or 18. We'd all seen Seasons of Love on TV, and my mom went out and bought the CD. She wasn't impressed, but she thought it might be better live.

Once we saw it, I'm pretty sure I'm the only one in my family who enjoyed it. My parents both thought it was loud and stupid, basically. I don't know about my younger sister, but as I recall, she was unimpressed.

Since my mom didn't like the CD, I inherited it, and when I sat down a few years later and finally listened to it, I was more impressed than I had been seeing the show live. I could understand the lyrics, and get the story, enjoy some of the more complex music, and HEAR it better. I agreed with the rest of my family that the live show was just TOO LOUD. I know it was a rock score, which is fine, but when things are distorted enough you can't make out what's going on it doesn't make for good theater, IMHO.

I actually liked the movie BETTER than the show, and from what I understand my parents and sister agreed. I thought the show worked better with the characters being older, actually. I was disappointed that they cut two of my favorite bits (the really complex multi-part stuff in Christmas Bells, and Halloween, which always struck me as rather reminiscent of Sondheim.)

I think the biggest thing I find compelling about Rent was how much POTENTIAL Jonathan Larson had. He was a pretty good composer when he wrote Rent (and Tick...Tick...BOOM, for that matter - I LOVE his Sunday parody!). I find it very sad that we'll never get to see what he would have gone on to write because I think his work would have eventually been amazing, instead of just OK.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-26 13:45:35


I was probably just confused because I thought it took place in New York, Saskatchewan.

Why else would Mimi sing, "I wanna go owwwwwwwww-ooooooooooooot!"?

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by adam.peterson44 2012-07-26 14:55:59


"I was probably just confused because I thought it took place in New York, Saskatchewan."

Off-topic Canadian prairie humour - number one tourism slogan in Saskatchewan:

"See all of Saskatchewan - from a chair."

Now back on topic:

I never could forgive the movie for cutting Halloween, my favourite scene from the show, and some of the saddest/most moving parts of Goodbye, Love.

The reasoning behind the cuts in Goodbye, Love was just asinine. On the commentary, Columbus says it would be weird if the roommates sang to each other. Really? You're directing a MUSICAL! If characters singing to each other is too weird for you, pick another project! Yeesh!

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-26 15:00:35


The idea that characters singing their dialogue to one another is unbelievable on film keeps returning, despite the fact that characters do exactly that in hits such as HAIRSPRAY and (God help us!) MAMA MIA!

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by adam.peterson44 2012-07-26 15:51:55


I've really never understood that attitude. Who do they think the audience is for a film musical? Probably not people who object to characters breaking into song - they won't be buying tickets or buying the DVD's anyway. The people who would be willing to see the film are those who like musicals, and they will just be alienated if songs are converted to spoken (even sometimes still rhyming) dialogue.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-26 16:30:10


Exactly. All theater (and film) is a system of conventions. Characters singing their speech and even thoughts is simply one convention.

But I took Musical Theater History at Columbia from the NEWSDAY critic Martin Gottfried in 1980. (He's the author of that huge, coffee table book with the great photo from A CHORUS LINE.)

Martin gave an entire lecture on how CABARET (especially the film) and FOLLIES showed that the future of musical theater was one in which singing and dancing would occur only when the characters were supposed to be "on stage" within the world of the play.

It was a seminar, so I couldn't literally roll my eyes, but I did sit there thinking of all the counter-examples running at the time and scheduled to open in the coming season.

What CABARET, FOLLIES and even PHANTOM really prove is that audiences are so clever that characters can sing "on stage" and also "on the street" without causing any confusion.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-26 16:43:10


But what none of those things did was reverse the mainstream slide into belief that people bursting into song is "corny" and "stupid." Which is why the apologist musical form popped up. It's the same reason contemporary people roll their eyes at cowboy and Indian shoot-em-ups. They're corny and old and out of date.

See a preview at a cinema for a movie musical nowadays that actually includes singing (since the marketing strategies usually avoid that at all costs) and you're likely to hear laughter and snickering. And that shows how Gottried was basically correct.

And I don't really want to debate it. Yes yes, we all worship all musicals (I don't but I'm just playing along, I only love the good ones), but they are a hard sell because they just don't work for a large audience segment.

Anyway, this thread is about RENT, right?

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Mister Matt 2012-07-26 17:09:09


I dunno, I think with RENT the characters are more insufferable because they seem to think they're cooler than everyone else for living the lifestyle that they do. Well, at least Mark does. Maybe I just hate Mark?

Just out of curiosity, who did you see as Mark? I actually saw several and the degree of smugness in the character changed vastly from actor to actor, the last one I saw being the worst. In the original cast, the only character I really saw as displaying the attitude you’re describing was Benny until La Vie Boheme where I felt like they weren’t really being smug, but being unashamed of who they were and the community the represented.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by CarlosAlberto 2012-07-26 17:18:39


One thing I do know about ReNt is that those that love it and those that love to hate it are equally obsessed with it.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-26 17:36:26


I, like every queen in David Drake's generation and the queens who came after us for a number of years, ADORED "A Chorus Line." By the mid-'80s, when I was more out and pallin' around with guys about 10 years older, I was really shocked by how many of those guys either hated ACL from the start or grew to really hate it. Oh they complained about the amplification (as if a lot of their precious '60s shows weren't amplified), about the hype. One of the guys about 15 years older than them HATED "Hair" and said "it was too loud" and he felt like the tribe "was yelling at me, and critiquing me," which of course it was (he was a squaresville medical doctor).

So, I think these things happen. I saw Wicked the week it opened and just plain didn't care for it. The explosion of fandom didn't seem justified to me.

So, ya know, the more things change the more they stay the same.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by SporkGoddess 2012-07-26 17:51:15


Mister Matt: I can't remember because I saw the tour back in high school, haha. My perception of Mark was more shaped by Anthony Rapp in both the cast recording and the movie.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Mister Matt 2012-07-26 18:16:51


I sort of blocked the movie from my memory after the initial viewing, but I certainly never felt that way from Anthony's performance back in 1996-97. A bit of idealistic immaturity, perhaps, but as Namo said, that was part of the character's journey. Norbert Leo Butz was the only actor I saw play both Mark and Roger and he was excellent as both. Gilles Chiasson's Mark was a bit on the smarmy side in an NYU Film School student way. Matt Caplan really turned Mark into a smug, self-righteous, snarky and bitter person that I simply couldn't stand. So yeah, I could see how that might happen.

I can't believe I actually remember all that. I don't even remember most of the actors I saw in Les Miserables, which is my favorite show and I've seen 15 or 16 times. I also recall several Maureens and Mimis I've seen over the years. And I vaguely remember a tour with an especially pathetic and whiny Roger and a white Tom Collins.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-26 18:52:35


See a preview at a cinema for a movie musical nowadays that actually includes singing (since the marketing strategies usually avoid that at all costs) and you're likely to hear laughter and snickering. And that shows how Gottried was basically correct.

Except that Gottfried wasn't predicting film musicals (and he failed to mention that the entire genre would be moribund for nearly a quarter century). His prediction was made for stage musicals, where characters continued quite happily singing "on the street where you live." So, no, he wasn't right, Namo.

But the confusion here results from the way I told the story. You are correct that even after CHICAGO, HAIRSPRAY and MAMA MIA! all passed the $100 million mark, there remains a large section of the audience who considers them corny and old-fashioned, or, at best, suitable for children. We will probably never again see the day where a SINGING IN THE RAIN appeals to all segments of the audience. But one could say that about almost any film genre except, alas, Batman movies.

Now back to RENT...

I think your generational analysis is spot on. (I'm in the ACL-love group.) Which is why I'm reluctant to criticize RENT too harshly and instead try to admit my biases re the show.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by EricMontreal22 2012-07-26 19:09:09


"I was probably just confused because I thought it took place in New York, Saskatchewan.

Why else would Mimi sing, "I wanna go owwwwwwwww-ooooooooooooot!"?"
I think you'd have to move over a few provinces to the East of Sask. for that

I think Namo raises a great point about shows that (to simplify it) get these massive followings and hype, particularly withyounger generations. Some of it also probably stems down to the fact that (with Chorus Line, Rent, and Hair, to use some of the examples given) many of the people who heaped praise on them also did go on about how it was ushering in some new form of musical theatre.

I grew up with that Gottfried coffee table book being my bible, but as I've actually read a lot more of his writing, and not just admired the gorgeous photos, I have a lot less respect for his opinions. Ignoring the famous examples of his veiled homophobia (he seems to be one of the last remaining critics who still holds on to that popular 60s view of all these homosexuals taking over the theatre and writing straight characters who theys hould know nothing about--like the attacks that were popular on Williams and especially Albee), his opinions often don't seem to hold any real weight--his (gorgeously illustrated) Sondheim book is even just filled with mis-information.

WHat I find odd is how many movie musicals now feel the need--due, I can only assume, to the belief that people will only really accept characters singing to each other, as opposed to performing, when it's either camp (Little Shop, Hairspray), or not at all--change through sung musicals to have dialogue. Rent, Dreamgirls, even Phantom to a lesser extent did this (and it sounds like Miz may be doing so as well), when surely with audiences growing up with music videos, etc, these shows actually would work better if they remained through sung as films--there's only the initial moments to adjust to.

So many people I know had the same experience as I did of seeing Dreamgirls in the theatre, and as soon as they finally had a song that was essentially sung dialogue and not a performance, people actually could be heard in the theatre saying "Wha? This is a *musical*?" As Namo pointed out, much of that is due to marketing (the biggest example being Sweeney, where I believe the major ads didn't even show ANY singing--but hey, I guess in that case it worked as a somewhat difficult film made a profit by selling the Burton and Depp element and not the Sondheim one).

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-26 19:34:25


I think you'd have to move over a few provinces to the East of Sask. for that

I admit it's all rather a blank to me between Ottawa and Kamloops. But then I feel the same about the U.S. between Pittsburgh and Las Vegas.

***

I don't think HAIRSPRAY as a movie was all that camp. In fact, the lack of camp seemed to be the major complaint of those who loved the stage show.

I wonder if the perception problem re musicals isn't has much the fault of the marketing department as anything. If kids can sit in front of MTV for hours on end (and mine sure did), why can't they watch a 2-hour musical comedy? We know they sat through the godawful HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL (at least 1 and 2).

I realize we're talking a different scale of success, but one of the reasons HEDWIG worked as a film was because it treated each song as a music video.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by EricMontreal22 2012-07-26 19:43:01


No worries--when I lived in Montreal I realized for most Canadians it seems to all be rather a blank between Toronto and Vancouver... or anywhere East of Mtrl for that matter.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-26 19:48:54


I've spent two weeks on Cape Breton Island and even an evening in Port-au-Basque, Nfld. I should get points for that, I think.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by EricMontreal22 2012-07-26 20:07:42


Further East than I've been... :P

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Posted by Reginald Tresilian 2012-07-26 20:41:09


I have a CD of "Traditional Fiddle Music of Cape Breton Island, Vol. I."

Can I get an honorable mention?

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by SporkGoddess 2012-07-26 23:12:35


I've been to Manitoba. But then I'm in the Midwest so I'm already in "the middle of nowhere" according to most people on this board.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-26 23:52:00


Spork, I'm sure there a circle of "Very Important Area" that surrounds you wherever you go.

Eric, by all means try the all-day ferry ride from Halifax to Newfoundland. Lots of big waves, greasy food and general vomiting.

It was like sitting through RENT. (Not really, but I can't resist. LOL)

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FlowerChild67 2012-07-28 20:53:23


Hmm... Well, when I first saw it (a local production, mind you), I didn't like it either. Now, I'm OBSESSED. I think it might be so critizised because of the lack of editing. It's a great show, but it's too long, and a lot could have been taken out. When you just listen to it, also, you can just listen to some songs, and you're not watching five straight minutes of "I should tell you, I should tell you". Just MY opinion, though, and I know a lot of people probably won't agree. :)

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-28 23:35:59


Actually, I think you're spot on, flowerchild. To me, RENT is simply unfinished; but there's no question in my mind as to Larson's talent. What a loss!

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-29 00:33:43


I don't really care much about the Monday morning quarterbacking of theater fans who feel such shame about their over-the-top enthusiasm for something 16 years ago or 10 years ago or six years ago, that they feel they must now distance themselves from it in order to show growth. Nor do I care much for the people who didn't seem to grasp how much was there from the very beginning when they dismissed RENT.

For me, I go back to the content that was there when I first saw it in 1996 and the fact that people whose opinions I trust saw it and heard it too, be they John Lahr in The New Yorker or New York Times classical music critic Anthony Tommasini. And of course, my personal most trustworthy critic, Michael Feingold of The Village Voice. Like me, he went back and had a look at New World Stages, and saw that it was still there.

For the people who never got RENT, eh, whatever, no explanation is possible. For the people who did, none is necessary.



RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-29 20:09:25


^^^And the shadow (and romance) of Larson's sudden and premature death hovered over all of you, Namo. I don't see how anyone could have missed it.

Do you really want a discussion that includes only those who adore RENT unconditionally? Because surely there are RENT fan-boards where you can find that. (I hope that isn't ALL you want, because your comments on RENT in this thread would be greatly missed.)

Here, I think even those of us who don't love the show as you do have acknowledged that much of it is talented. And we've tried to be honest about our own biases (such as my tendency to see RENT's bohemians as hippies redux).

Isn't that how a good, critical discussion works?

Or to put it another way, are you really saying that in an era when we were losing many of Broadway's brightest lights to illness, that the loss of such a promising newcomer didn't influence your experience of his final show?

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-29 23:28:17


No, actually, I don't want a discussion with you at all. Not one scintilla of a discussion. I don't want to engage with you, specifically, about any theatre related topic. But that's just me.

I was going back to the original question that still sits atop this thread. If anybody out there reading this doesn't get RENT, never liked it, that's fine. There's no law you have to.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by mikey2573 2012-07-29 23:40:17


I still consider RENT to be the absolute worse thing I have ever experienced in a professional theater.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by bwayphreak234 2012-07-29 23:48:51


I have seen Rent four times. Three times it was a national tour, and one was a college production back in March of this year. The first time I saw it was the best, and I absolutely loved the cast and production. The other two times I saw the tour (once with Rapp and Pascal), I was not too impressed. The casts lacked energy and the show just seemed disjointed. I thought the movie was pretty bland and lacking, and thought the casting was just bad. I like Rent, but it is far from my favorite show, and I have no strong desire to see it again anytime soon.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-29 23:51:14


So the story so far, OP: there's a whole range of responses to RENT!

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by bwayphreak234 2012-07-29 23:57:04


For the people who never got RENT, eh, whatever, no explanation is possible. For the people who did, none is necessary.

Good point, Namo.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-29 23:59:22


(I stole it from The Song of Bernadette, but it works!)

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by bwayphreak234 2012-07-30 00:01:17


Yes- it definitely does work! Sums things up pretty well

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by Phyllis Rogers Stone 2012-07-30 00:06:24


Seasons of HATE

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-07-30 00:35:14


You made me laugh in an out loud manner.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-30 17:43:31


No, actually, I don't want a discussion with you at all. Not one scintilla of a discussion. I don't want to engage with you, specifically, about any theatre related topic. But that's just me.

Namo, I'm going to continue to address you as the intelligent and well-informed adult I know you can be. You may continue to bang your head on the floor and call me names like a small child. It's a free country.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by DEClarke 2012-07-30 17:54:46


I love RENT. but I found the only good parts of the New World Stages production that I attended yesterday at 2:00pm were the set, the female soloist (in all of her roles), and the male soloist as the male soloist. YIKES! The Roger understudy... how did he even get considered to understudy that role? The Mimi looked the part, which I guess was all they cared about because she sure couldn't sing it. That production was particularly painful. Thank God I got tickets for TKTS and did not pay full price for that mess.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by ifuweregay93 2012-10-07 02:02:50


Sorry to bump up this old thread, but I found it interesting reading through this, and I actually remember reading this article in which the director admitted to just how flawed the show was, and even said similarly to what others said on here about how there was still A LOT he was going to fix.

"It would've been easier if that had not been the focus," he added. "But that came directly out of Jonathan's material, and while I wish he'd been around so that I could've fought with him about certain things, I'm also sure I would've lost those battles. These questions of how you tell the story of a community continue to challenge me. The show has flaws, certainly."

http://articles.latimes.com/1996-04-14/entertainment/ca-58265_1_jonathan-larson

Just something I thought I'd add, as I find that interesting...

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by yankeefan7 2012-10-07 09:25:38


Thanks for the article, interesting reading. Even with it's "flaws", I still loved it.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by g.d.e.l.g.i. 2012-10-07 10:20:26


Even those "flaws" are something that can be glossed over with a good staging. Me, I'm still figuring out how to use the material we're given and manage to have Mimi die at the end.

(No, screw you, it has to happen. Has to. Number one, it drives home the show's moral even more: life moves pretty fast, so live each moment as your last. Number two, after hearing what I heard -- namely, that Larson at one point made the glib statement that "it's okay if the fag dies" when asked why Angel died and Mimi lived -- I want justice. And since he's dead, changing his damn ending is justice.)

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-10-07 10:34:52


"Number two, after hearing what I heard -- namely, that Larson at one point made the glib statement that "it's okay if the fag dies" when asked why Angel died and Mimi lived -- I want justice"

You're still here posting merde like that, which proves that in many instances, life is not short enough.

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by CJ N2N 2012-10-07 11:16:14


Where in the WORLD did you hear that, g.d.e.l.g.i.? I heard that Larson wanted her to live because he wanted his show to be about life, not death. I personally believe that Angel has to die because he was the last person that sort of kept them together. He dies so they can leave each other and then subsequently realize how much they all need each other.

At least, that's what I believe...

RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted by FindingNamo 2012-10-07 11:21:06


It doesn't matter where he "heard it". He's repeating folklore. He's an idiot. He's a troll.