one of the main things about portland i’ll miss when we move away (at some point) will be the collection of friends that i have that enjoy musicals. when the portland dates for the rent farewell tour were announced jessica asked me if i wanted to go, i didn’t have to do any of the work, that’s probably a first for me.
rent is a unique experience in my mind, it comes off entirely cheesy but has a lot of heart. the theme of survival while keeping trying to figure out who you are, and how to compromise who you are without losing yourself, is something almost everyone can connect with. the characters, and there are a lot of them, are well developed. you quickly get a good sense of who they are and what they stand for. rent is also a true musical, there is very little spoken words, almost all of it is sung. the songs are strong and full of hooks that are some of the strongest earworms out there. the biggest drawback to rent is that it is wrapped in a cliched nineties wrapper. the songs have grungy pop rock overtones and the costumes are perfect for when they start making “that 90’s show”. all of that makes it somewhat difficult to watch at times, a little cringe worthy. luckily the story is strong and you really care about the characters and how it all works out.
this touring production of rent has a couple of the original actors, anthony rapp and adam pascal, people only theater nerds care about. they have been doing these characters off and on for over 13 years, including the movie, so they know this material. the familiarity works against them i think, their performances were very automaton like. it was a bit like seeing a disneyanimatronic version of rent. also they are well into their late thirties, so it’s a little hard to believe them as early twenties, especially with the bald spots.
the rest of the cast was good, none of them really stood out though. most of them coming from the broadway closing cast, so they also had a bit of woodenness about them. this was my third time seeing a production of rent, although i think i’ll be glossing over it with memories of the original broadway production, and the time i saw it from the front row (while getting spit on, damn 525,600 minutes).