Saturday, September 15, 2007

No Day But Today

Show: Rent
Venue: Nederlander Theatre
Date: September 7, 2007

For those of you who don't stalk Broadway as I do (which I would assume is most of you), you may or may not have heard that a few months ago, Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal made their glorious return to Rent, reprising their roles from almost ten years ago. When I found this out almost half a year ago, I literally freaked out. Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal!!!!

So naturally, my friend and I decided to get tickets to see them. We got orchestra seats for about 70 bucks... which isn't too terrible. The theatre is rather small, so we could see pretty well from where we were.

It seemed like an impossibly long wait, the few minutes before the show started. I kept asking When is this bloody thing going to start? when all of a sudden the girls behind us started screaming loudly. I looked to the stage and Adam freaking Pascal was walking on nonchalantly - as if he weren't Adam freaking Pascal - with his guitar. He sat down on the table near center stage and the rest of the company came out. To the front came Anthony Rapp.

At this point, I quite nearly had a heart attack. Anthony Rapp. Adam Pascal.
Forget for a moment that this is my first time seeing Rent. Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal! It was so surreal. The audience started cheering wildly. Anthony opened his mouth to start the show, but everyone was applauding so loudly, he had to wait a whole minute before he could start.

Now, I know that it's been almost ten years since these guys performed these parts live. (Doing it for a movie is a different animal completely.) But I'm not joking when I say Anthony and Adam were absolutely pitch perfect. It was almost as if those last ten years never happened. Every line, every song, every move was so perfect. They sounded almost exactly the same as the recording they did nearly ten years ago. Though I've never heard or seen the roles performed by anyone else, I'm absolutely convinced that Anthony Rapp is Mark, and that there could be no other Roger than Adam Pascal. Convinced.

Now, much as I love Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal, they weren't t
he only stars in the show. Starring as Mimi was former AI star Tamyra Gray. I have never really liked the role of Mimi. Her songs aren't great, and her part isn't that good either... but I really enjoyed Tamyra's performance. She has a great voice and she definitely looked the part of Mimi. The short hair was different, but she rocked it. Mimi had some REALLY bizarre outfits. (Oh, and on that note... I really took offense to Roger's plaid pants. Thankfully, he changed them for Act Two.) She and Adam had some great chemistry too. "Light My Candle" was actually really, really cute. There were some bits that, especially, made me laugh. The best part though was when Mimi asks Roger to dance. Roger asks, "With you?" and Mimi replies, "No... with my father." When Tamyra sang that, she did this little hip twist. Then, in the next line, Adam Pascal mimicked that twist, and sang, "I'm Roger." SO CUTE. I loved that.

As it was my first time seeing it, there were a lot of new elements for me to discover. The OCR finally made sense to me. Lots of little lines of dialogue that I didn't understand before now were clear. I also noticed something regarding the show and the movie. Obviously, the movie and the actual show had a lot of differences in story. (e.g. "Christmas Bells", the timing of the songs, etc.) It seems that the show itself has an element missing from the movie. I'm not quite sure what it is. The show was definitely more captivating than the movie. I think it has something to do with the rawness and the simplicity of the set and the performances. The movie made everything to refined, too clean... that's not what Rent is about. And I think the power and strength of the show became diluted in the medium of a film.

The rest of the cast was strong. Justin Johnson was a great Angel. He definitely had all the mannerisms down and was so cute. Nicolette Hart did a good turn as Maureen... though I feel like she made Maureen a bit of a ditz. My friend argued that she liked her interpretation... Well, I just don't like the character of Maureen at all. ("Over the Moon" is actually my least favorite song.) D'Monroe and Troy Horne as Benny and Collins, respectively, also did very well in their roles.

I have always felt like Act One was much better than Act Two, and seeing the show confirmed that for me. However, my favorite song is in Act Two... and that's "What You Own". And I got to see it performed by Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal. Totally blew my mind. It was so heartfelt and raw and moving.

Another of my favorite songs and scenes is "La Vie Boheme." And can I just say... Mark is so damn cute in that scene. How he's singing and dancing on the table... yup. I love that song and scene! It's so cheerful and lively and colorful. And Anthony Rapp was so adorable in that scene... I wanted to hug him.

There was another bit in that song that made it especially funny. In one part, Roger is supposed to say, "And Mark Cohen will preview his documentary about his inability to hold an erection on the high holy days!" When this part came up, Adam Pascal jumped up on a table, and started the say the line. Except as he went on, he started to slow down. "... his inability to uh... hold a boner... I MEAN AN ERECTION..." The Rent-heads all went crazy with laughter. Afterwards, Adam was near the back of the stage, laughing and shaking his head.

There was one scene I considered more well done in the movie... At least, very distinctly better. That's Angel's funeral. For some reason, in the show, it didn't quite move me as much as it did in the movie.

The show was over before I knew it. The ovation was amazing. Everyone stood and cheered as the company took its bow. While Rent isn't my favorite show (that dubious honor still sits with Spamalot), it is definitely near the top. The music and the message are very real. And Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal made the experience so completely and utterly amazing. As my friends and I exited the theatre, my friend mournfully commented, "Now I want to see it again." Can't say I disagreed.


Megan said...

Thank you for this blog entry!

I am recently a "Rent-Head" convert. I saw the movie and loved it. I also fell in love with Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal and long to see the show on broadway.

Your entry has inspired me to find away to see RENT live. Thank you.

Ps. Have you considered journalism? You have an exceptional talent. You were never once pretentious and able to really identify with the audience. I really enjoyed reading about your experience.

sofia said...

I love Rent! Yhank you for telling us the emotions of that day, I've read with envy your cute post!
I wish I could see Rent on Broadway, but unfortunately I live in Italy and for me it'd be difficult:( kisses. I'm a musical fan too!
I love The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Aida, Sweeney Todd and many more others.:)