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For the next RENT revival...

Owen22
Broadway Legend
joined:2/24/11
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For the next RENT revival...#1
Posted: 8/24/20 at 12:25pm

...maybe, just maybe, Mimi could be a gay boy?

The brilliant writer/AIDS activist Sarah Schulman has always complained that the gay characters in RENT are sidelined.  I sorta get what she means.

We're not talking about the BEST characters, or your FAVORITE characters, but arguably the three MAIN characters in RENT are all straight.  Sure, one (just one) is a marginalized person, but I have to agree with Sarah that the only hit musical to tackle the AIDS epidemic has a straight AIDS infected couple as the lead love story.

I'm not sure it it would be allowed, however (and I don't know if it's an urban legend, but) a high school production changed every reference to AIDS to diabetes. (think about that for ten minutes and then laugh for twenty). So maybe the Larsen family would, maybe go for it...?

Has this been tried anywhere? And I don't mean making Mimi trans.  It might dilute Angel's character (although...thinking about it...is Angel a transvestite or transexual...?  If he/she is the latter there isn't actually a gay male romance in the show as it stands...)

I hope I don't hurt too many butts by just floating this idea...

 

Broadway61004
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joined:4/14/11
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For the next RENT revival...#2
Posted: 8/24/20 at 12:31pm

If Jonathan Larson was still alive, then I could see this as a possibility.  But given that not only is he not around to approve a major change like this but of course died tragically while still working on the piece, I can't imagine his estate giving this the green light.  The reality is Rent is still very much a rough draft with many things being changed right up until the time he died.  Had he still been alive, I'm sure there would have been a lot more changes before it came to Broadway.  But from the moment he's passed, there hasn't been a single word in the script altered, so I can't imagine suddenly an entire character being rewritten.

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hork
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joined:6/28/15
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For the next RENT revival...#3
Posted: 8/24/20 at 12:35pm
Lord knows we have enough theater about gay men and AIDS. I think we can allow straight people to have this one. It doesn't bother me at all.
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Tag
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joined:11/19/05
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For the next RENT revival...#4
Posted: 8/24/20 at 12:44pm

Maybe people who want to change classics should just write their own original Pulitzer winning musicals and they then can do whatever they want with their characters.

Updated On: 8/24/20 at 12:44 PM
SeanD2
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joined:5/2/17
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For the next RENT revival...#5
Posted: 8/24/20 at 12:56pm

Broadway61004 said: "If Jonathan Larson was still alive, then I could see this as a possibility. But given that not only is he not around to approve a major change like this but of course died tragically while still working on the piece, I can't imagine his estate giving this the green light. The reality is Rent is still very much a rough draft with many things being changed right up until the time he died. Had he still been alive, I'm sure there would have been a lot more changes before it came to Broadway. But from the moment he's passed, there hasn't been a single word in the script altered, so I can't imagine suddenly an entire character being rewritten."

Not true, there have been many changes to the text of Rent over the years (the most notable being Rent Remixed in London) approved by the estate. Though I think with Rent Remixed they realized the danger of approving such sweeping changes so they're unlikely to do it again, but even the Off-Broadway Revival and Rent Live on Fox made changes to lyrics here and there.

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Jordan Catalano
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joined:10/9/05
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For the next RENT revival...#6
Posted: 8/24/20 at 1:18pm
And Roger should be in a wheelchair with a cast on his leg.
Islander_fan
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joined:6/25/14
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For the next RENT revival...#7
Posted: 8/24/20 at 1:33pm

It’s true, there have been changes here and there to the script. I remember, for example that one of them was, when the characters were delivering their eulogies at Angel’s funeral, everyone onstage said the the first couple of words together, then the character would continue on their own. I know that Grief put that in the revival off Broadway and I think that that started in the national tour with Adam and Anthony in it. Another example, is that when Larson found out Idina was from Long Island, he than made her character from Long Island too. Hence the line, “you can take the girl out of Hicksville, but you can’t take the Hicksville out of the girl.” When they started to tour the show they changed Hicksville to Jersey. 

I don’t think that changing Mimi to a gay male makes sense in the confines of the story. I believe that one of the things that Larson was trying to show was that AIDS wasn’t limited to the gay community. And, I feel he did a good job showing that. 

Also, I take what Schulman said about this idea with a grain of salt. She wrote a novel that came out around the time that Larson was working on Rent. And then, tried to sue for plagiarism after she saw the show saying that Larson took things right from her novel and never asked permission nor gave her a credit that she felt she was owed.  

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Sutton Ross
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joined:7/20/13
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For the next RENT revival...#8
Posted: 8/24/20 at 1:49pm

...maybe, just maybe, Mimi could be a gay boy?

That would completely defeat the purpose of him showing that women of color and drug addicts were strongly affected by the AIDS epidemic, something that was ignored for a long time. 

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TheGingerBreadMan
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joined:12/7/12
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For the next RENT revival...#9
Posted: 8/24/20 at 3:26pm
This would also mean that Roger and Benny are now gay or bisexual, which is another layer that I’m sure Larson never intended. I’m a gay man myself and I always love seeing more LGBT stories in media, but this is a change that I don’t think is necessary. Rent isn’t a story about gay people, it’s a story about people from many different walks of life which includes gay people. Yes, the gay community was devastated by the AIDS epidemic and that cannot be ignored or forgotten, but non-LGBT-identifying folks dealt with the disease as well and their stories deserve to be shared as well.
Ravenclaw
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joined:9/16/17
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For the next RENT revival...#10
Posted: 8/24/20 at 3:50pm

Owen22 said: "I'm not sure it it would be allowed, however (and I don't know if it's an urban legend, but) a high school production changed every reference to AIDS to diabetes. (think about that for ten minutes and then laugh for twenty). So maybe the Larsen family would, maybe go for it...?"

You're thinking of a Saturday Night Live sketch... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wRVQSh7aCQ

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BroadwayNYC2
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For the next RENT revival...#11
Posted: 8/24/20 at 3:55pm
^Still unconfirmed, but there have been rumors of Rent/diabetes production years before the SNL sketch.
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Sutton Ross
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For the next RENT revival...#12
Posted: 8/24/20 at 4:07pm

Unless I see that proof, I cannot believe his estate would ever okay that, even in like middle school productions. Yikes. 

Princeton2
Broadway Legend
joined:6/1/08
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For the next RENT revival...#13
Posted: 8/24/20 at 4:40pm
This idea feels like its setting gay rights and the Aids cause back 30 years. Aids and HIV was forever (and still is to many) associated with gay men and it's their problem. By not having gay characters be the ones with aids feels more progressive tbh.

And if any character was to be gay surely it would be Mark as every production I've seen he comes across that way.
Alex Kulak2
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joined:9/11/16
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For the next RENT revival...#14
Posted: 8/24/20 at 6:52pm

Tag said: "Maybe people who want to changeclassicsshould just write their own original Pulitzer winning musicalsand they then can do whatever they want with their characters."

I Michael R. Jackson did that with A Strange Loop, and it was fantastic.

Alexander Lamar
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For the next RENT revival...#15
Posted: 8/24/20 at 7:01pm
No.
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g.d.e.l.g.i.
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For the next RENT revival...#16
Posted: 8/24/20 at 10:03pm

Broadway61004 said: "The reality is Rent is still very much a rough draft with many things being changed right up until the time he died. Had he still been alive, I'm sure there would have been a lot more changes before it came to Broadway."

I don't know that that's as true as people have made it out to be. It needed further work, but there wasn't going to be another major overhaul like there was in the fall of 1995 and any revisions would have been more incremental. It's easy to groan about the plot being messy, but it's La Bohème put through the filter of someone who was really into music during the age of the concept album, where the big moments and emotions were what mattered over intricacies in the story. (The book Boho Days, by former BWW contributor J. Collis, goes into this in some detail. It's pricey, being a quality self-published effort, but well worth the read.)

Islander_fan said: "Another example, is that when Larson found out Idina was from Long Island, he than made her character from Long Island too. Hence the line, “you can take the girl out of Hicksville, but you can’t take the Hicksville out of the girl.” When they started to tour the show they changed Hicksville to Jersey."

That was more of a change for people outside of the NY metro area who wouldn't know what the hell Hicksville was. The reference to Ted Koppel was changed to CNN and the Circle Line to the Statue of Liberty for the same reason.

Formerly gvendo2005
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Updated On: 8/24/20 at 10:03 PM
Islander_fan
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For the next RENT revival...#17
Posted: 8/24/20 at 11:32pm

g.d.e.l.g.i. said: "Broadway61004 said: "The reality is Rent is still very much a rough draft with many things being changed right up until the time he died. Had he still been alive, I'm sure there would have been a lot more changes before it came to Broadway."

I don't know that that's as true as people have made it out to be. It needed further work, but there wasn't going to be another major overhaul like there was in the fall of 1995 and any revisions would have been more incremental. It's easy to groan about the plot being messy, but it's La Bohème put through the filter of someone who was really into music during the age of the concept album, where the big moments and emotions were what mattered over intricacies in the story. (The book Boho Days, by former BWW contributor J. Collis, goes into this in some detail. It's pricey, being a quality self-published effort, but well worth the read.)

Islander_fan said: "Another example, is that when Larson found out Idina was from Long Island, he than made her character from Long Island too. Hence the line, “you can take the girl out of Hicksville, but you can’t take the Hicksville out of the girl.” When they started to tour the show they changed Hicksville to Jersey."

That was more of a change for people outside of the NY metro area who wouldn't know what the hell Hicksville was. The reference to Ted Koppel was changed to CNN and the Circle Line to the Statue of Liberty for the same reason.
"

No, I get that. I know why those were changed. But, they didn’t need to be. I don’t know, I guess, maybe that the idea of altering things when the guy who created it has zero say in the matter is he that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Islander_fan
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joined:6/25/14
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For the next RENT revival...#18
Posted: 8/24/20 at 11:32pm

g.d.e.l.g.i. said: "Broadway61004 said: "The reality is Rent is still very much a rough draft with many things being changed right up until the time he died. Had he still been alive, I'm sure there would have been a lot more changes before it came to Broadway."

I don't know that that's as true as people have made it out to be. It needed further work, but there wasn't going to be another major overhaul like there was in the fall of 1995 and any revisions would have been more incremental. It's easy to groan about the plot being messy, but it's La Bohème put through the filter of someone who was really into music during the age of the concept album, where the big moments and emotions were what mattered over intricacies in the story. (The book Boho Days, by former BWW contributor J. Collis, goes into this in some detail. It's pricey, being a quality self-published effort, but well worth the read.)

Islander_fan said: "Another example, is that when Larson found out Idina was from Long Island, he than made her character from Long Island too. Hence the line, “you can take the girl out of Hicksville, but you can’t take the Hicksville out of the girl.” When they started to tour the show they changed Hicksville to Jersey."

That was more of a change for people outside of the NY metro area who wouldn't know what the hell Hicksville was. The reference to Ted Koppel was changed to CNN and the Circle Line to the Statue of Liberty for the same reason.
"

No, I get that. I know why those were changed. But, they didn’t need to be. I don’t know, I guess, maybe that the idea of altering things when the guy who created it has zero say in the matter is he that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

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g.d.e.l.g.i.
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For the next RENT revival...#19
Posted: 8/25/20 at 10:24am
They probably wagered that the guy who created it would want his work to be accessible and understandable to anyone who watched it, not just New Yorkers, and wagered tiny changes like that were indeed tiny in the grand design.
Formerly gvendo2005
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Tag
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For the next RENT revival...#20
Posted: 8/25/20 at 10:49am

Islander_fan said: "Another example, is that when Larson found out Idina was from Long Island, he than made her character from Long Island too. Hence the line, “you can take the girl out of Hicksville, but you can’t take the Hicksville out of the girl.” When they started to tour the show they changed Hicksville to Jersey."

Wow, after all these years...I always thought Hicksville was a reference to "hicks" (ie. country folk) and not a real place!

Broadway61004
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For the next RENT revival...#21
Posted: 8/25/20 at 12:54pm

g.d.e.l.g.i. said: "Broadway61004 said: "The reality is Rent is still very much a rough draft with many things being changed right up until the time he died. Had he still been alive, I'm sure there would have been a lot more changes before it came to Broadway."

I don't know that that's as true as people have made it out to be. It needed further work, but there wasn't going to be another major overhaul like there was in the fall of 1995 and any revisions would have been more incremental. It's easy to groan about the plot being messy, but it's La Bohème put through the filter of someone who was really into music during the age of the concept album, where the big moments and emotions were what mattered over intricacies in the story. (The book Boho Days, by former BWW contributor J. Collis, goes into this in some detail. It's pricey, being a quality self-published effort, but well worth the read.)
"

Rent obviously works great as it is--not at all arguing that.  And no, I didn't mean to imply there was going to be a major overhaul (like there was from the first workshop to the NYTW production).  But my point is Larson was still making a lot of changes to the text right up until the time he died (for instance, "Take Me or Leave Me" was completely rewritten multiple times just during the rehearsal period at NYTW).  So I think it's safe to say that had he got to see the production (remember, other than dress rehearsals and workshops he never actually saw Rent performed), he would have ended up making some more changes (likely nothing major, but still several more edits).

And yes, I shouldn't have said nothing has been changed in other productions--as others have pointed out, a word or two here and there, folks saying lines together instead of separately, etc.  But my point was, nothing major (no cut songs or new songs added, no major character rewrites, no sequences of dialogue completely rewritten, etc.).  So the idea the estate would suddenly approve completely changing one of the characters just doesn't seem likely.

 

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quizking101
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For the next RENT revival...#22
Posted: 8/25/20 at 1:02pm

For the person who mentioned it earlier, “Rent: Live” didn’t make any fundamental alterations to the core of the show. Other than changing the Life Support group leader to be female (or non-binary?), most of the lyrical or dialogue alterations were made for the sake of the network censors - which ended up sterilizing the show about as badly as they did to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”

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Sutton Ross
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For the next RENT revival...#23
Posted: 8/25/20 at 1:51pm

Let's not talk of Rent: Live again.....for the rest of our lives.

aimeric
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For the next RENT revival...#24
Posted: 8/25/20 at 2:57pm

Tag said: "Islander_fan said: "Another example, is that when Larson found out Idina was from Long Island, he than made her character from Long Island too. Hence the line, “you can take the girl out of Hicksville, but you can’t take the Hicksville out of the girl.” When they started to tour the show they changed Hicksville to Jersey."

Wow, after all these years...I always thought Hicksville was a reference to "hicks" (ie. country folk) and not a real place!
"

 

Lol, same.  Now as an adult, I know Hicksville, Long Island, but as a kid growing up in Florida, listening to Rent I just assumed they meant "hicksville" in the broader use of the term: i.e., a town that's "bumf**k."  (Or at least, that's how I commonly heard "hicksville" used where I came from...is that not a thing in other parts of the country...?)  Thus my confusion over why it would even need to be changed in the libretto.

Broadway61004
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For the next RENT revival...#25
Posted: 8/25/20 at 4:16pm

aimeric said: "Tag said: "Islander_fan said: "Another example, is that when Larson found out Idina was from Long Island, he than made her character from Long Island too. Hence the line, “you can take the girl out of Hicksville, but you can’t take the Hicksville out of the girl.” When they started to tour the show they changed Hicksville to Jersey."

Wow, after all these years...I always thought Hicksville was a reference to "hicks" (ie. country folk) and not a real place!
"



Lol, same. Now as an adult, I know Hicksville, Long Island, but as a kid growing up in Florida, listening to Rent I just assumed they meant "hicksville" in the broader use of the term: i.e., a town that's "bumf**k." (Or at least, that's how I commonly heard "hicksville" used where I came from...is that not a thing in other parts of the country...?) Thus my confusion over why it would even need to be changed in the libretto.
"

That was definitely an issue with Rent on the road and why the first national tour in particular got so many walkouts (besides the subject matter, which some people didn't realize what they were getting into).  It's really such a New York show that for many people across the country they just couldn't relate to it.  But on the plus side, I give them credit for not altering it for the road,