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Ratings and reviews for Rent (1996 Original Broadway Cast)

Ratings and reviews for Rent (1996 Original Broadway Cast)
4.8
based on 574 rating(s)
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Price: $32.98 $16.48 (44% off)
Artist(s): Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Jeff Potter, Anthony Jackson, Daniel A. Weiss, Ira Siegel, Kenny Brescia, Steve Skinner, Aiko Nakasone
Release Date: 8/27/1996
Binding: Audio CD
Format: Cast Recording
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Number of Discs: 2
Studio: Verve
Manufacturer: Verve
Product Group: Music
Sales Rank: 6140
Description: Into Broadway's creative vacuum of revivals, movie adaptations, and Hollywood star vehicles comes Rent, the story of squatters, junkies, performance artists, struggling musicians, drag queens, aspiring filmmakers, and HIV-positives (and you thought Miss Saigon's helicopter landing was cool). Undoubtedly among the defining pop cultural events of 1996, Rent has already won four Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. More importantly, it threatens to bring substance back to the Great White Way. Transposing Puccini's 100-year-old opera La Bohème into modern day Bohemia (19th-century Paris's Left Bank becomes late-20th-century New York's East Village where the scourge of tuberculosis becomes the plague of AIDS) Rent celebrates life among the young, sick, and unconventional. While Broadway shows are hardly the place for authentic portrayals of the latest marginalized hipsters, composer Jonathan Larson (who died at age 36, days before his musical opened) managed to sculpt vivid characters and scenes that bring Avenue A as close as it will ever come to 42nd Street. And by telling a socially relevant story of living without the guarantee of a future (renting, that is), Larson does his own little bit to define an X'ed generation. At worst, Rent is the Hair of the '90s. For the majority of us who won't be seeing Rent anytime soon, the Original Cast Recording is more than just an after-show souvenir. Well-packaged with a complete libretto, the two-CD set is a worthwhile album separate of live performance. Full of songs that are funny and catchy, inspiring and touching, smart and hip and not overly sentimental, Rent mixes show tune pop with elements of rock, R&B, dance, gospel, and tango to make one of the best albums of the year--certainly the best rock opera in decades.
UPC: 600445000322

Ratings
Reviews 1 to 10 of 574
Pageof 58
amazon logo "No day but today" - Jonathan Larson's "Rent"
"Rent" is one of those musicals where Barbra Streisand is never going to cover any of the songs on one of her Broadway albums. The pastiche of music styles reminds me of "Hair," "Godspell" and "Cats"--there are 43 tracks, including a reprise of "Seasons of Love" featuring Stevie Wonder singing with the 15-member cast--and to a large extent "Rent" also shares with those shows the ensemble nature of the cast. But just because the songs from this show are not destined to be Broadway standards does not detract from their power. These are songs driven by character and context more than melody and voice, reflecting pretty much the complete spectrum of musical styles. You have straight forward rock-and-roll in "Rent" and "Goodbye Love," but also everything from Gospel in "Seasons of Love to the Tango in "Tango: Maureen." More importantly, what stands out in the performance of these songs is how the characters are more prominant than the voices: Adam Pascal as Roger, Daphne Rubin-Vega as Mimi, Anthony Rappas Mark, Jesse L. Martin as Tom, Taye Diggs as Ben, and Wilson Jermaine Heredia as Angel. This is a story with songs and the intergration of the two is something you would expect much more from an opera than a traditional musical.

This would make sense since "Rent" was inspired by Puccini's opera "La Boheme," but knowledge of the "original" is not at all necessary, although when Collins loses his coat ("You Okay Honey") that will bring a smile of recognition to those who are in the know as will a couple of guitar riffs. The main thing is that if we are talking opera, that means at least one of the lead characters will be dead by the time the curtain rings down. Certainly in that regard "Rent" is a sobering story, with the additional pathos of the death of its creator Jonathan Larson on the day the show opened. Instead of poverty we are now dealing with the dregs of society, people afflicted by drugs and disease. Thus we have Roger, the song-writer and ex-junkie struggling with writer's block and Mimi, the beautiful junkie from downstairs, as well as Collins and Angel, both HIV-Positive. These are people who celebrate the New Year remembering those they have lost and wondering who will be next. The East Village industrial loft that is the setting for "Rent" is a place where those abandoned by the world find comfort in each other and the philosophy that there is always "No day but today." I keep coming back to the idea that "Rent" is one of those theatrical experiences we hear tell about from time to time, richly deserving of the Pulitizer Prize and well worth catching on tour.

80 of 85 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Ew.
Why did this shallow, stupid, offensive show win such coveted awards as the Pulitzer? Songs like "One Song Glory" and "Without You" tend to plod on forever like Larson is trying to write a musical Chekhov monologue, except he fails very very badly. Somewhere, Giacommo Puccini is rolling in his grave. I hate this show with a burning passion. I hated it. I hated every stupid moment of it. I hated the thought that people would be entertained by this awful piece of poorly-written musical "theatre." I hated every single audience-insulting moment of it. I would rather be forced to see Phantom of the Opera starring Roseanne Barr and John Stamos than go see Rent.
5 of 71 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Even more meaning when you've lived it
I first saw Rent in 1996. That year was quite a year for me. I first tested positive for HIV, my lover died of AIDS, I was an addict at that time. and I saw Rent for the first time (the first of 6 times over the past almost 10 years). Those who claim that Rent is trite, or meaningless, that the characters aren't real clearly haven't been exposed to the things I have in my life. Rent is relevant on so many levels.

So many talk about their favorite songs from this recording, and there are so many different lists of favorites, as Rent shows we are all individuals and our spirits are all drawn to different things. Interestingly, my strongest connection is to "Will I?" I never see that listed on any list of favorite selections, but for me it is incredibly moving. For all 6 of the shows I've been to, I've been lucky enough to get the $20 "night of" seats in the front row. Each and every time, "Will I?" turned me into a sobbing mess. Why? Well, every day for the past almost 10 years, I've asked myself the same questions. They are pretty much ingrained in the soul of every HIV+ person I know. These are fears and apprehensions that touch each of our souls deeply.

The rest of the CD is also beautiful. Let's face it, this was supposed to be raw and real, and not meant to be another Phantom or Les Mis.

Finally, the reprise of "I'll Cover You" has great meaning for me. Living in San Francisco in 1996, I knew a few people in the business and was able to get the music early on. It was performed live at my lover's memorial service and I have to say it was one of the most memorable moments of my life.

Has Rent changed my life? Probably not. My life was changed enough without Rent. I will say that it has helped me to put words to my life, to things that are hard to put words to.

I can't say this CD will change your life. I can't say that this recording is still relevant to our world today. Give it a shot, you won't be disappointed.

No Day But Today....
55 of 56 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo No wonder broadway is irrelevant
This show is just bad - the music bland and uninteresting - the lyrics devoid of the clever word play and elegant rhyme schemes one should expect from broadway. I do not for the life of me understand the rave reviews. If it were an assignment for a high school drama class, I'd give it a "c".

I worry about a Broadway where people go gaga over crap like this and anything Andrew Lloyd Webber puts out.

--steve
9 of 55 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo What's the big deal?
I have yet to understand the appeal of this show. Each song sounds like one of those bad junior-high-school arrangements of pop songs; not one of these songs could ever make it on any popular music chart, so why is everyone jumping on it? The characters are bad, unrealistic stereotypes-- people that could never exist outside a pop-rocker's fantasies. They bear a great resemblance to the two-dimensional sketches that passed for people in "The Matrix," who were created for the same basic reason: to be cool, to dress interestingly, and to advance the plot. The lyrics are clever-- too clever. Puns and clever rhymes can never take the place of substance, which is terribly lacking. Perhaps this "musical" is surviving on associations. Yes, the songwriter/lyricist died of AIDS, and was tragically denied his triumph. Yes, his work does discuss AIDS, gay life, drugs, oppression, fear of death, loneliness, and many other important issues which are very topical and current. Yes, this is among the first famous musicals by a gay songwriter (notice I will not say composer). But none of these things change the quality of the music itself. If you want better music, you like the story, and you're willing to trust a musician, go back to La Boheme. If nothing else, it will serve you as a sort of "History of RENT." If it's the issues that draw you on, check out some modern plays on homosexuality, gay culture, and the horrors of AIDS. There are some wonderful experiences of much greater depth that you're missing and glossing over when you listen to RENT. I applaud Larsen's effort, and his difficult life; I cannot applaud his creation, since it appears that he has trivialized the very issues he sought to bring to the fore, issues which are very near to my heart. I'm sorry if you love this show-- I'm not trying to offend you, I'm just being honest.
12 of 51 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo "Foul in subject, and fulminant but futile in its music...."
Over a century ago New York Tribune music critic Henry Krehbiel described LA BOHEME as "foul in subject, and fulminant but futile in its music.... silly and inconsequential..." Words which can today describe the Broadway musical RENT, based, albeit loosely, on Puccini's LA BOHEME. How it has achieved critical and popular acclaim boggles the mind!
8 of 47 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Terrible
This musical is terrible. Don't buy it under any circumstance.
7 of 46 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Rent - a Celebration of Financial, Hygenic and Moral Degeneracy Masquerading as Moving Drama
When I first received my copy of Rent's soundtrack, one of my friends had the good manners to warn me that I would "hate the message." I am not surprised at this assessment, but what is more unfortunate is that the production as a whole does not make up for that objectionable message enough to make this a worthwhile purchase for anyone uninterested in a mindless affirmation of the self-destructive "bohemian" lifestyle. The lyrics alternate between vapid pseudo-philosophical platitudes ("Measure in love, seasons of love") and ugly overtones of Marxist class envy ("Yuppie scum"). The voices of the singers are disputable in quality - the most impressive being Idina Menzel's boisterous, full-bodied rock vocals and Jesse L. Martin's poignant soul-inspired voice and the worst being Daphne Rubin Vega's rasping excuse for a voice, whose every note invokes simultaneous feelings of pity and revulsion. As for the music, while certain tunes hold a certain decadent charm, the overall style soon becomes repetitive and tiresome, with guitars assailing the ears almost as frequently as paeans to drug use, socialism and "loooooove". How this mediocre blasphemy against Puccini could possibly have won a Tony is beyond my understanding, and how anyone could bring themselves to spend more than a dime upon such a second-rate soundtrack should be equally beyond your belief. Avoid this record.
4 of 45 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Utterly missable.
Emotional claptrap and cheap melodrama masquerading as deep philosophical thought. The main characters for whom we are supposed to feel such empathy are all whiners who could easily go home to Mommy and Daddy while the backdrop consists of the homeless and real outcastes who would all have fascinating stories to tell. The music is either annoyingly raucous or insipid. The plot is muddled and uninteresting. There are some clever touches that put moments of spark into the thing, but in general, I think it should just be put to rest.
9 of 44 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Absolutely Awful
I have yet to understand what all the hype is about. This musical has nothing but forgetable songs. This is not true Broadway theater. It reminds me of something from off-off broadway. Maybe it should go there and stay. It tries to compete with the rock attitudes of hair, and Jesus Christ Superstar, but fails in comparison. If you want true Broadway music, try Cabaret, Miss Saigon, or Jekyll and Hyde. You won't be disappointed.
9 of 42 people found this review helpful.

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