“Rent” is a Broadway musical that has been loved and shared for 25 years now. As this year marks the 25th anniversary, “Rent” is making its way across the country with its farewell tour, kissing Jonathan Larson’s masterpiece goodbye.
“Rent,” starring Cody Jenkins, Coleman Cummings, Aiyana Smash, Shafiq Hicks, Javon King, Lyndie Moe, Rayla Garske and Jarred Bedgood, made a stop at the Staller Center on Stony Brook’s campus on March 3 for a sold-out show. There was never a dull moment and the actors gave a show-stopping performance on their farewell tour.
“Rent” is based in 1989 and follows a group of friends through the span of a year. There are a total of eight friends who are all struggling to survive in the East Village of New York City in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Out of the eight friends, four of them were HIV-positive and all of them are trying to navigate their ways through the struggles of life and love. They are rebels of society because they choose to live how they want but want to leave their mark on the world before they run out of time.
After opening off-Broadway in 1996, “Rent” would soon claim its stage on Broadway and under the lights of the Tony Awards. That year, the musical was nominated for 10 Tony Awards and won four of them: Best Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical.
“Rent” captures the struggle of life, love and everything in between, leaving nothing out and giving a sense of honesty and truth. “Rent” defied the expectations of Broadway and relationships.
The musical touched topics such as relationships in a way that spoke to everyone while also advocating for people with AIDS. It was set at a time when the HIV/AIDS epidemic was ongoing and people were ignoring those affected. It brought light to how life and relationships were considering testing positive and being gay. “Rent” showed that the cast are just everyday people trying to live their lives, trying to get “one song to leave behind.”
One of the main characters that embodies the message “Rent” sends is Angel. Angel is a drag queen and street percussionist that lives every day to the fullest, not letting the struggles of being HIV-positive or being gay in a society that does not fully accept that. Angel’s relationship with one of the other friends, Collins, is one that brings hope to being in love and not letting fear rule. Angel taught the rest of the friends how to not give up, be thankful for each day and choose love.
There should not be a label put on how we live our lives and especially our relationships or who we choose to love. “Rent” shows how we live our lives however we want and should not have any regrets. Angel, played by Wilson Jermaine Heredia, teaches us that we must love to the fullest and be true to ourselves. Why waste our time worrying about what other people think?
The “Rent” Revolution pushed topics that needed attention and changed the way music was written and performed on Broadway. The spunk and rock and roll of revolutionary music inspired and made history.
The bright colors of the costumes and the bold characters contrasted with the dark times of the Alphabet City. It gave us hope for tomorrow by not letting go of what will happen today. Relationships and life are hard but if we lean on those we love we can live without regrets.
It is never easy to say goodbye; but “Rent” will always be in our hearts and even in our music library. Love whoever you want to love because there’s “No Day But Today.”