Analysis Of The Musical Rent

Great Essays
April 29th 1996, Broadway’s Nederland theatre is sold out to capacity and the audience is gritting their teeth with excitement, but an overture is nowhere to be heard, the curtains are missing and the haphazardly placed lighting rigs have not yet dimmed. All at once, the stage erupts with cast members running in-between and out of the industrial themed set, a strum of a guitar is heard and a critically acclaimed overnight sensation is born in the image of Jonathon Larson. Adapted from the popular opera La Bohème, Rent the musical was created in the hopes of representing the minute bohemian culture of New York City at the end of the 20 century who were confronted with impoverishment, HIV and homosexuality. Going against traditional musical theatre …show more content…
This essay will seek to analyse the musical Rent, from both a theatrical and musical point of view. It will also seek to discuss how its textual, dramatic and musical elements best represented the life perspectives of HIV-positive people at the time of the musicals publication.

Now, twenty years from the productions initial release, Rent is still seen as one of the most ground breaking musicals of its time, largely due to the shows taboo textual elements which conjured from the brilliant mind of the shows late creator, Jonathon Larson. The story revolves around a year in the life of friends who live in the impoverished East Village in New York City. Among the group is the musical’s narrator, Mark Cohen, a love struck filmmaker; the object of Mark 's dying love, his ex-girlfriend, Maureen Johnson; Maureen 's adamant lesbian lover, Joanne Jefferson; Mark 's village roommate, HIV-positive guitarist and former junkie, Roger Davis; The HIV-positive club dancer and Junkie, Mimi Marquez; a former MIT professor, HIV-positive Tom Collins and Collins ' HIV-positive street musician/lover, Angel Dumott Schunard. Throughout the year in which the story is told, Mark
…show more content…
(Nogee, n.d.) The scenery mirrored that of a contemporary East Village and the set itself was virtually non-existent, this use of a significantly bare stage, depicted the poverty stricken temperament which bohemian people were subjected to in 1996. The stage was designed and mapped out with bright glow tape, highlighting the positions of rusted metal chairs, folding tables, a platform for the shows band on one side, and a junk sculpture representing a Christmas tree on the other. The theatre itself at the time of the productions opening exhibited peeling green paint, discoloured foyer bulbs, damaged mirrors and cracked ceramic plates. This different approach to theatre design which challenged traditional musical elements is seen further in the costuming, which in the original Broadway cast was sourced from thrift stores and the actor’s own closets. Overall creating a sparse look on stage that Broadway audiences had never seen… Evidently, it was the creative team who opportunely chose to create this vision of Rent, and did so in order to consume the audience in the most truthful representation of Bohemian life, and drive them to focus solely on the people and the story they were trying to tell. Surprisingly enough, producers and audiences eventually came to adopt this style of production in shows such as the revival of Chicago, which evidently had less of a set than Rent did.

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