November 14, 2013

Wife's Choice: RENT Just Isn't My Thing

"La vie Boheme!"
As an acting major with a lot of musical theater friends, I understand the profound significance of Rent.  This is a show that means the absolute world to a lot of people and much of that comes from the tragic story of the show's creator Jonathan Larson, who died the morning of the show's first Off Broadway preview performance.  It's one of Jamie's very favorite plays and she simply adores the story, the music and the whole bohemian philosophy that the show espouses.  We managed to see a stage production in Los Angeles starring original cast members Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal and it was impressive to be sure.  Chris Columbus's film adaptation makes an admirable effort to remain true to its source material, and you've got to give the guy credit for being smart enough to reassemble most of the original cast, including the ensemble members who played minor roles.  While it's hardly a perfect rendition and there are some sections (e.g. New Mexico) that seem ill-suited for the literal conventions of film compared to the interpretive styles of the theater, you have to admit that Columbus is making an honest effort to capture that onstage magic.  But even if he had managed to perfectly recreate the original show's energy and emotional resonance, it wouldn't really matter for me.

Rent just isn't my thing.  I know because whenever I watch it, I sympathize more with Benny than with everyone else.*

It's little wonder I couldn't make it as an actor and now work in a cubicle.

I don't have anything against the show itself.  It's well written, full of catchy tunes and the cast really is spectacular.  There's just nothing about the subject matter that really appeals to me and you know how I feel about musicals.  I can't begrudge anyone their love of Larson's masterpiece, but it simply isn't for me and at this point I'm kind of fine with that.

I respect Rent.  I appreciate Rent.  I just don't particularly enjoy Rent.

To each his own.

*Jamie has reminded me that Bennie is, in fact, demanding a year's backrent from the group and not setting new terms to their "lease."  This point is made much clearer in the play than in the film, in which the entire neighborhood looks poised to burn the place down in protest.

Title: Rent
Director: Chris Columbus
Starring: Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Rosario Dawson, Jesse L. Martin, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Idina Menzel, Tracie Thoms, Taye Diggs
Year Of Release: 2005
Viewing Method: DVD

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