RENT to Become First Broadway Musical to Open in Cuba in 50 Years; Watch Clip!

According to UK's The Telegraph, the first Broadway musical to play in Cuba in 50 years will open this Christmas Eve, December 24th. RENT will debut to an audience of Cubans, most of whom, according to the article, "will never in their lives have seen a musical on that scale."

Explained the show's producer, Robert Nederlander Jr, "Getting permission to bring the show here was extremely challenging. It took us well over a year to negotiate."

The news is truly a case of art imitating life. Last Wednesday, President Obama announced that the United States was restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba and easing certain trade restrictions. The news represented the biggest shift in the relationship of the two nations since the beginning of the Cold War. Comments Nederlander, "It is quite amazing timing, though. We really do have a front-row seat for this tremendous history."

The production will have a three month run at Havana's Bertolt Brecht Theatre and will feature an all-Cuban cast. The price of admission is 50 cents. Says Nederlander, "it's more about enjoyment and education than money."

Gisela Gonzalez, president of the Cuban National Council of Performing Arts, described the production as "a paramount step for musical theatre in Cuba." She adds, "We will have the possibility of combining Cuban talent with the long-time history of Broadway as a form of art."

Watch a rehearsal clip from the production below:

Read the article in full here

Rent features music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson and is loosely based on Giacomo Puccini's opera La Bohème. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in New York City's East Village in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

The musical was first seen in a limited three-week workshop production at New York Theatre Workshop in 1994. This same off-Broadway theatre was also the musical's initial home following its official January 25, 1996 opening. The show's creator, Jonathan Larson, died suddenly of an aortic dissection, believed to have been caused by undiagnosed Marfan syndrome, the night before the off-Broadway premiere. The show won a Pulitzer Prize, and the production was a hit. The musical moved to Broadway's larger Nederlander Theatre on April 29, 1996.

On Broadway, Rent gained critical acclaim and won a Tony Award for Best Musical among other awards. The Broadway production closed on September 7, 2008 after a 12-year run of 5,123 performances, the ninth longest-running Broadway show at the time.

The success of the show led to several national tours and numerous foreign productions. In 2005 it was adapted into a motion picture featuring most of the original cast members.

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From This Author Caryn Robbins