Rent breathes new life into the classic Broadway musical – FamilyWise Asia

Forget regret, or life is yours to miss / No other path, no other way / No day but today”

Since it first premiered off-Broadway almost three decades ago, Rent has become both a critical and commercial success, winning numerous awards such as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Musical. Its production has grossed over $250 million and has become one of the longest-running shows on Broadway. Rent has also been adapted into a film in 2005, with the musical also going on several national tours and having productions in different countries around the world. People who grew up watching theater and will likely be familiar with Rent, so adapting it for the stage will always be a challenge. 

Here in the country, Rent has been staged several times, including twice before by 9 Works Theatrical back in 2010 and 2011. This particular staging of the Jonathan Larson-penned rock musical marks the third time it has been produced by the company. And almost 30 years since it first made its way into the hearts of theater loving audiences all over the world, Rent is able to breathe new life into the classic musical. 

Rent, which was made by Jonathan Larson, who also created another musical previously staged by 9 Works Theatrical, Tick, tick…BOOM!,  focuses on a group of young, struggling artists struggling to make ends meet and survive in New York City during the 1990s, with the HIV/AIDS epidemic serving as the backdrop of the story. But this staging of Rent, in the words of director Robbie Guevara, puts HIV/AIDS front and center instead of merely being the musical’s backdrop, which helps in raising awareness about the illness. 

Decades later and the issues faced by the characters of Mark, (played by Reb Atadero and Ian Pangilinan), Roger (portrayed by Anthony Rosaldo), Mimi (played by Molly Langley and Thea Astley) and the rest of the cast are still relevant not just in the United States, but here in Manila. Many still struggle to make ends meet, with limited job prospects for the youth, rising prices, and gentrification also being relevant issues, and HIV/AIDS affecting an increasingly alarming number of people, including teenagers. This is what makes Rent’s theme and message relevant even in this day and age, and the musical’s message of celebrating life and making the most out of today, which the production brought to life and portrayed with clarity. 

Fans of the original Broadway musical, who are also known as “Rent-heads,” will be delighted to see this staging of Rent and hearing songs that they know by heart performed with flair by the cast, such as “Seasons of Love,” “La Vie Boheme,” “Take Me Or Leave Me,” and “Another Day.” And even those who have not previously seen the Broadway musical, film, and other stagings of Rent will find themselves appreciating the performances of the cast, Guevara’s direction, and even other elements of the musical such as the set design and stage at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium. 

Through the cast’s passionate and earnest performance and by putting HIV/AIDS at the musical’s forefront, there’s plenty to like about the return of Rent in the Manila, as it breathes new life into the classic musical while staying true to its timeless message. 

Rent is still being staged at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium of RCBC Plaza in Makati on May 19, 24, 25, 26, 30, 31 and on June 1 and 2. 

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