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 Welcome, to the Playboy Photographer's details pages.
 

Home

Arny Freytag
Thank you Playboy

Arny Freytag, Playboy Photographer

Arny's work in Playboy from 1977 to 2007 is catalogued here.
Arny is still producing stunning images for Playboy. We're only up to 2007 across the site, so far . . .
149 Playmate shoots, 8 PMOY shoots, 58 Covers, 85 Pictorials

 
To view all available magazines please select the year you're interested in.
 
Click the picture for more information on that issue or the Playmate's name for her datasheet.
Both will open in a new window. Enjoy!
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March 1982 April 1982

November 1982

January 1983 January 1983
Karen Witter
April 1982 - Click for more info.
Marlene Janssen
January 1983 - Click for more info.
Lonny Chin

Karen Witter

Mariel Hemingway

Marlene Janssen
non-gatefold only

Audrey and
Judy Landers

Lonny Chin

July 1984

September 1984

December 1984

January 1985 February 1985
Liz Stewart
Kimberly Evenson
Karen Velez
January 1985 - Click for more info.
Cherie Witter

Liz Stewart
with Kerry Morris

Kimberly Evenson
with Kerry Morris

Karen Velez

Goldie Hawn

Cherie Witter

May 1989 November 1989

November 1989

January 1990 February 1990
May 1989 - Click for more info.
November 1989 - Click for more info.
Renee Tenison
Peggy McIntaggart
Pamela Anderson
Natalya Negoda Donna Mills

Renee Tenison

Peggy McIntaggart

Pamela Anderson
with Stephen Wayda

April 1990 May 1990

October 1990

November 1990

Lisa Matthews
May 1990 - Click for more info.
Tina Bockrath
Brittany York
Lorraine Olivia

Lisa Matthews

Margaux Hemingway

Tina Bockrath
non-gatefold only

Brittany York Lorraine Olivia
October 1991

October 1991

January 1992 March 1992 June 1992
October 1991 - Click for more info.
Cheryl Bachma
January 1992 - Click for more info.
Tylyn John
Angela Melini
Tai Collins

Cheryl Bachman
with Stephen Wayda

Swedish Bikini Team

Tylyn John
with Stephen Wayda

Angela Melini

April 1995 May 1995 August 1995

October 1995

November 1995

April 1995 - Click for more info.
Cynthia Brown
August 1995 - Click for more info.
Alicia Rickter
Holly Witt
Shana Hiatt

Cynthia Brown

Shelly Jones

Alicia Rickter

Holly Witt
with Stephen Wayda

December 1995

March 1996 May 1996 June 1996 July 1996
Samantha Torres
March 1996... Click for larger.
May 1996... Click for larger.
Karin Taylor
July 1996 - Click for more info.

Samantha Torres
with Stephen Wayda

Amara Ann Dunae Cindy Crawford

Karin Taylor

Jenny McCarthy

July 2000

October 2000 November 2000 December 2000
Neferteri Shepherd
October 2000 - Click for more info.
Nichole Van Croft
November 2000 - Click for more info.
December 2000 - Click for more info.

Neferteri Shepherd

Lauren Michelle Hill

Nichole Van Croft
with Stephen Wayda

Chyna Carmen Electra
May 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002

July 2002

May 2002 - Click for more info.
Christi Shake
Michele Rogers
July 2002 - Click for more info.
Lauren Anderson
Kiana Tom

Christi Shake

Michele Rogers

Shallan Meiers
Christina Santiago and
Lauren Anderson

Lauren Anderson

December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 April 2003 May 2003
Lani Todd
Rebecca Ramos
February 2003 - Click for more info.
Carmella DeCesare
May 2003 - Click for more info.

Lani Todd
with Jarmo Pohjaniemi

Rebecca Ramos
with Stephen Wayda

Alison Eastwood

Carmella DeCesare
with Stephen Wayda

Torrie Wilson
August 1979  
Another Loving Look

While our 25th-anniversary Playmate was taking a grand tour of the Chicago Playboy Mansion, we were taking another photographic grand tour of Candy.

September 1981  

Girls of the South-Eastern Conference (part 1) photographed by David Chan and Arny Freytag

  tintinnabulating belles still ring out in dixieland

Tawanna Sharp, Kimberly Lasseter, Casey Sweet, Gigi Aldridge, Debra Gregory, Syerelyn Jackson, Joan Villarosa, Lyndi Young, Juliana van Mierop, JoAnne Riggs, Marlene Hall, Eve Vaupel, Donna Crouch, Gina Todd, Jamie Kapeghian, Becky Lewis, Jena Clayton, JoAnne Henderson, Carol Darsey, Mary Landreth and Karen Paige

October 1981  
Girls of the South-Eastern Conference, (Part II), photographed by David Chan and Arny Freytag
  We bring you the second installment of the ladies (and pride) of the colleges in the Southeast. Ah, school daze.

Suzanne Shaheen, Devin De Vasquez, Tricia Doyle, Chole Vilas, Holly Kelley, Carolyn Arnold, Sheri Proffett, Julia Gillis, Tish O'Connor,Crystal McTaggart, Marcia Levy, Shari Helton, Anne Jones, Deanna Rankin, Sallie Crutcher, Pamela Skaggs, Julie Gayle, Debra Kittle, Kathy Murphy, Candy Howell, Claire Peterson and Punnie Brittain

February 1982  
We Wuz Robbed! photographed by Arny Freytag and Neil Leifer - Words by John Blumenthal
 

in one corner, a playmate: in the the other, the intergender wrestling champion of the world. but who really one?

Andy Kaufman (not nude) and Susan Smith

January 1983  
Blonde Ambitions

The Landers sisters, Audrey and Judy, are, at the ages of 23 and 22, respectively, already familiar faces to American television and movie viewers. After you've perused this pictorial, we think you'll be even greater fans.

February 1983  
The Women of Aspen

Kalla Brandt, Jennifer Busse, Fran Clayton, Holly Cook, Dorian Frankel, Cheryl Gustafson, Karen Isaacs, Eve Lubin, Kelly Marshall, Shawna Massey, Danielle McCann, Lanette Poe, Cynthia Ramstead, Catherine Swanson, Cynthia Thomsen, Anne Trucks, Helen Trucks and Sasha Vanderhoof

September 1984   Playboy's Pigskin Preview (sports) by Anson Mount with photography by Arny Freytag
October 1984  

Babes of Broadway with text by Bruce Williamson

Karen Ziemba, Anna Nicholas, Sam Singhaus, Laine Jastram, Ivy Frank, Donna Williams, Linda Russo, Catherine Cooper, Kasey Cameron, Christina Belton, Belinda Andretti, Cindi Thomas and Debbee Hinchcliffe

July 1985  
Sheer Madness: 12 pages
why stockings give women a leg up on the competition
November 1985  
The Women of Mensa
Elizabeth Rogers, Janel Killheffer, Joy Johnson, Donna Howell, Sheri Blair, Valerie Coel and Joann Harjes
October 1986  
"Oh, Wendy O.!"
Wendy O. Williams
November 1986   Revvin' Devin: Devin DeVasquez photographed by Arny Freytag and Stephen Wayda
January 1987  
Meet Missy, Republican Porn Star!
Elisa Florez
May 1987  
Diary Of A Hollywood Starlet
Melissa Prophet
August 1987  
Women of Florida photographed by Arny Freytag and David Mecey
Lynne Austin, Anita Faircloth, Amy Weiss, Robin Zourelias, Kristin Leslie, Barbara Ward, Pamela Stein, Christina Murphy, Kelly Jo Dennis, Linda Carroll, Brenda Muenzner, Ashley Brooks, Heidi Guenther, Kristina Hauser and Myra Baldwin
October 1987  
Oh, Donna!
Donna Mills
May 1988  
Kathy Goes Hollywood

say hello again to kathy shower, whose first three playboy appearances helped make her a movie star

August 1988  
May 1989  
That Glasnost Girl
Natalya Negoda photographed by Arny Freytag and Richard Fegley
September 1989   Body By Winkler: KC Winkler
Ode To Morganna:with text by Curry Kirkpatrick
October 1989  
Working Girl
Bravina Trovato
November 1989  
Working Girl
Margaret Nelson
May 1990  
Papa’s Girl by Margaux Hemingway
hemingway would be proud of this rare granddaughter: she's vintage margaux
October 1990   Gladiator Lace: Marisa Pare
October 1991  
The Governor And The Beauty
  what really happened when miss virginia met chuck robb
Tai Collins photographed by Arny Freytag
April 1991  
Women of the Women’s Colleges photographed by David Chan and Arny Freytag
Barnard, Bryn Mawr, St. Benedict, Mount Holyoke, Scripps, Smith, Vasser and Wellesley are all reprsented

Lisa Pellegrini, Illicia Lori Goodman, Raquel Fisher, Jody Fraser, Shauna McCarty, Debra Lafaye, Alica Rosado, Jennifer Chandler, Suzanne Redmon, Laura Goldbaum, Jeanne Fendler, Jean Gasson, Andria Lee Waugh, Karey Axell, Kathleen O’Neil Voss, Aurora Stuski, Domino Sweete, Deidre Mitchell, Anne Mullahy, Tara Mock, Tori Leslie, Susan Sullivan and Deborah Reel

June 1991  
Funny Girls
Diana Jordan, Rhonda Shear, Kitt Scott, Ria Coyne and Rosanne Katon
July 1991  
Balkan Beauty
  bulgaria doesn't export much to the u.s., but when it does....

eight pages of Sonia Vassileva

January 1992  
Swedish Bikini Team
Uma Thorensen, Karin Kristensen. Hilgar Oblief, Eva Jacobsen and Ulla Swensen
August 1993  

Like Mother, Like Daughters photographed by Arny Freytag

Tamara Davis and her offspring (Dawn and Shannon) prove thar's no tie like a family tie
July 1994  
The First Daughter
Patti Davis photographed by Arny Freytag with text by Michael Angeli
March 1995  
Stunt Women
  meet the daredevil's who do hollywood's dirty work

Cheryl Rusa, Kathleen Conway, Jean Malahni, Alisa Christensen, Trisha Lane and Dana Hee

August 1995  
Girls of Radio photographed by Arny Freytag and Stephen Wayda
  the best-looking women you've never seen - until now

Ellen K., Janet Layne, Guadalupe Divina, Diane Ray, Shelly Jones (cover), Tracey Ray, Lizz Cufari, Vanessa Conner, Jennifer Masterman, Jessica Lee, Joy Pons, Karen Nobis, Tempest and Amy Lynn Baxter

February 1996  
ZAP
American Gladiator ZAP (Raye Hollitt)
March 1996  
The Stripper Next Door photographed by Arny Freytag and Stephen Wayda
Amara Ann Dunae (cover), Sissy, Dionne, Heather Banks, Kimberly Donahoe, Sandy Gorski, Ashton, Bo Jeanne, Alexis, Devon Chandler, Kelley Jackson, Lisa Franzen, Tammie Sadowski, Samantha and Kelley Eden
April 1996  
May 1996  
Electra photographed by Arny Freytag and David Mecey
there's nothing complex about carmen's high voltage appeal
July 1996  
The Girls of Venus Swimwear
  Build a better swimsuit and the babes will beat a path to your beach

Holly Gannon, Jennifer Allan, Ami Cusack, Kim Estess, Angela Andrews, Johan Berube, Heather Kademan, Genny Jordan, Carie Lee Rino, Stefanie Hastings, Christy Patrick, Bridgette Allan, Misti McDuffie, Valerie White and Robin Leigh Brundage

August 1996  
Hard Bodies

Jennifer Goodwin, Amy Fadhli, Leeann Tweeden, Lisa Carr, Debee Halo, Dana Dodson, Elizabeth Story, Julie Bourque, Christine Lydon and Stella Azocar

December 1996  
Saturday Night Specials
Shannah Laumeister, Lesli Kay Sterling, Kimberly Rowe, Kate Rodger, Sally Kirkland, Cheryl Bartel, Kira Reed and Gabriella Hall
March 1997  
Glamourcon
Jayne Mansfield, Bette Page, June Wilkinson, Tempest Storm and others
March 1997   Playboy's Guide To Spring Skiing (article) by Charles Plueddeman
June 1997  
Electra Magnetism
Carmen Electra photographed by Arny Freytag
June 1997  
July 1997  
September1997  
September1997  
October 1997   Mad About Christina: psychologist Cristina Barone
February 1998  
Couch Tomatoes photographed by Arny Freytag

juli and doria of playboy tv’s night calls take phone sex to new heights

May 1998  
April 1998   Brahms Bombshell: Linda Bravaalt (Violinist)
June 1998  
Fly Girl
Naval Flight Officer Lieutenant Frederica Spilman
August 1998  
The Women of Iceland with text by Bruce Jay Friedman
 

are the most beautiful in the world? to find out we sent our reporter to the land of buried shark's meat, reindeer stew and black death cocktails

Birna Willard, Dua, Birta Bjornsdottir, Katia, Zara, Thora Skuladottir, Arngunnur Agisdottir, Lovisa Gudmundsdottir, Arna, Helga Bjorg Kolbenisdottir, Dagny Heidarsdottir, Kristin Arnardottir, Thora Dungal, Edda Run Ragnarsdottir and Runa Magdalena Gudmundsdottir

March 1999   The Girls of KISS: photographed by Arny Freytag
June 1999   Pussycat Dolls
July 1999  
Girls of Hawaiian Tropic photographed by Arny Freytag and Stephen Wayda

Brooke Richards, Jennifer Braff, April Abraham, Nicole Carter, Gemma Sutton, Renee Slaughter, Patti O’Donell, Michell Damm, Carrie Flaska, Jennifer DeYonker, Tenniel Cacayan, Kalin Olson, April Morgan, Tanna Holly, Jennifer Canale, Michelle Vaden, Charlotte Arlt, Angie Chittenden, and Johan Berube

November 1999  
The Knockout
Mia St. John photographed by Arny Freytag
January 2000  
Mini-Hef: Verne Troyer (not nude) with Petra Verkaik and Julie Lynn Cialini
Verne Troyer gets a waist-high view of how our founder lives—and survives to tell the tale
November 2000  
Chyna
In the ring, the WWF star could crush you. In PLAYBOY, she takes off her clothes.
December 2000   Carmen Electra
December 2000  
Women Down Under
Michelle Johnston, Racheal Ingram, Samantha Bolton, Imogen Bailey, Gloria Howearth, Radana Povolny, Bree Maddox, Melissa Hallstrom, Joanne Ziegeler, Lucy Halliday, Jane Redman, Natasha Buttle, Simone Suthiwart-Narueput, Kelly Anne Walls, Divini Bean, Gayna Rowling, Olena Karpina and Tisha Eve Williams
February 2001  
Surfer Girl

Amy Cobb eats heartily and does crazy things on the waves. Her pictures will inspire you, too.

April 2001   Naked Bikes (lifestyle) by James R. Petersen
April 2001  
Girls of the Hard Rock Casino
  They work a round-the-clock backstage bash. It's only rock and roll, but we like it—especially in the nude.

Robin Robyn, Richelle Williams, T.J., Summer Sunday, Brandi Bagley (cover), Nicole Brock, Chrysti Dunn, Kristen Galioto, Bobbie Palmer, Tina Del Conte, Tracy Dean, Misty Newton, Shannon Dupont, Leah Beckett and Venus

September 2001  
Survivor
Grit and wit made Jerri a star of the Outback
  Jerri Manthey
January 2002  
Warrior Princess
  Chyna is gone, but Joanie's bod still kicks ass.

Joanie Laurer photographed b Arny Freytag

April 2002  
Tiffany
The darling of the mall is back—all grown up and with a new album.
May 2002  
Kiana Tom
As host of ESPN2's top-rated Flex Appeal, Kiana is the shape of things to come
July 2002  
The Making of Fox TV's Search for a Playboy Centerfold
  Hundreds vied for the honor of winning Fox TV's Playmate search. We have a backstage pass.
Lauren Anderson, Shallan Meiers, Christina Santiago, Danielle Day, Wendy Culp, Alexis Contopulos, Sara Schwartz, Jill Scott, Katie Hadorn and Jennifer Nahra
September 2002  
Britain's Bad Girl
Britain's reigning bad girl made a big impression on Hef. We say welcome.
  Jordan photographed by Stephen Wayda. and Arny Freytag
December 2002  
Dita Von Teese photographed by Moshe Brakha, Arny Freytag and Marilyn Manson
  The world's top fetish model turns us on.
March 2003  
The Spy Who Came In From The Cold: Katrina Barellova

A former intelligence operative from the former Czechoslovakia shows off her gadgets.

May 2003  
Torrie Wilson - WWE Wrestling Goddess
Ms. Wilson gives us a Woodrow
September 2003  
The Women of Starbucks photographed by Stephen Wayda and Arny Freytag
  Who are you calling slackers? These caffeinated cuties will perk up more than your coffee.
Lindsay Garren, Elizabeth Paradise, Signe Nordli, Erica Loveless, Kimberly Frazier, Penny Lynn, Elizabeth Dindial, Marcia Lee, Sheri Horner and Kattie Bruce
December 2003  

The Great 50th Anniversary Playmate Hunt

In January 2004 Playboy Celebrates Its 50th Birthday With A Special Anniversary Issue Featuring The Perfect Playmate.

Here Are The Curvaceous Candidates photographed by Stephen Wadya and Arny Freytag

Meagan Campbell, Angela Miller, Qiana Chase, Ashley Massaro, Andrea Marin, Amber Mross, Courtney Culkin, Scarlett Keegan, Krista Kelly, Izabella Lukomska, Ashley Pulda, Amanda Melissa, Sarah, Vicki and Rachel Satterfield (triplets), Jacqueline McKinnon, Jennifer Ponkratz, J'Tia Taylor, Hiromi Oshima, Yvonne Black, Amber Campisi, Amy Robinson, Allya Wolf, Chantal Vachon, Roxanne Siordia, Kimberly Holland, Meagan Rodelat, Melissa McGlone

March 2004  
No Holds Barred
And no clothes allowed. Get in the ring with the WWE's hottest stars, Torrie Wilson and Sable
May 2005  
Real Desperate Housewives photographed by Arny Freytag and George Georgiou

Whoever said "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife" certainly never met these real-life domestic goddesses.

April 2005  
Hemme Hits Hollywood
Step out with Christy Hemme, the WWE's fiery new RAW Diva, as she shows us how she paints the town red.
September 2005  

Swedish Blondes

we searched high and low and now it's official: the world's most beautiful blondes live in sweden
 

Alexandra Andersson, Simone Cronstrand, Louise Henziger, Rebekah Johansson, Emma Johnsson, Elita Lofblad, Lisa Martensson, Jessica Oakley and Cindy Paulsson

November 2005  
Dancing Queen photographed by Richard Fegley and Arny Freytag
Hot-to-trot Playmate Kelly Monaco won ABC's Dancing With the Stars.
November 2005  
Girls Next Door article by Steve Pond, photos by Arny Freytag
Holly, Bridget and Kendra, turn fantasy into your reality.
April 2006   Candice Michelle with text by David Hochman
September 2006  
One Night As Paris: 6 pages of Natalie Reid
Check out everyone's favourite hotel heiress in the nude--sort of--when our look-alike checks in as Ms. Hilton.
September 2006  
Love Thy Neighbor 10 pages
The Girls Next Door - Holly Madison, Kendra Wilkinson and Bridget Marquardt - are back for more, this time in fantasy themes of their own devising.
November 2006  
Poetry In Lotion photographed by Arny Freytag with reportage photos by Ric Moore

Meet the well-bronzed contestants of the Hawaiian Tropic International Pageant, now without their bikinis.

 

Carin Ashley, Amanda Corey, Candice Guerrero, Samantha Harris, Loredana, Alba Nadal, Oona O'Connell, Edina Pantinchin, Natalie Thomas, Melissa Tingley, Natalie Weston

March 2007  
Hot For Teacher photographet by Arny Freytag
Erica Chevillar give a lesson in physical education
November 2007  
The Bunnies Are Back

At the Playboy Club at the Palms in Las Vegas, some extraordinary women are reviving the Bunny tradition. Meet the new breed

 
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To see more of Arny's work check if the issue is in stock, visit his website, visit www.playboy.com or join the Playboy Cyber Club.

This site is not in anyway associated with the Playboy organization. Page Design © AR  Designated trademarks and brands are the copyright of their respective owners


American rock musical, based on La Bohème

"RENT" redirects here. For other uses, see RENT (disambiguation).

"Goodbye Love" redirects here. For the 1933 film, see Goodbye Love (film).

Original Broadway cast, 1996

Rent is a rock musical with music, lyrics, and book by Jonathan Larson,[1] loosely based on Giacomo Puccini's opera La Bohème. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in Lower Manhattan's East Village in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

The musical was first seen in a workshop production at New York Theatre Workshop in 1993. This same Off-Broadway theatre was also the musical's initial home following its official 1996 opening. The show's creator, Jonathan Larson, died suddenly of an aortic dissection, believed to have been caused by undiagnosed Marfan syndrome, the night before the Off-Broadway premiere. The musical moved to Broadway's larger Nederlander Theatre on April 29, 1996.[2]

On Broadway, Rent gained critical acclaim and won several awards. The Broadway production closed on September 7, 2008, after a 12-year run of 5,123 performances. On February 14, 2016, the musical Wicked surpassed Rent's number of performances with a 2pm matinee, pushing Rent from the tenth- to eleventh-longest-running Broadway show.[3][4] The production grossed over 0 million.

The success of the show led to several national tours and numerous foreign productions. In 2005, it was adapted into a motion picture featuring most of the original cast members.

Contents

Concept and genesis[edit]

In 1988, playwright Billy Aronson wanted to create "a musical based on Puccini's La Bohème, in which the luscious splendor of Puccini's world would be replaced with the coarseness and noise of modern New York."[6] In 1989, Jonathan Larson, a 29-year-old composer, began collaborating with Aronson on this project, and the two composed together "Santa Fe", "Splatter" (later re-worked into the song "Rent"), and "I Should Tell You". Larson suggested setting the play "amid poverty, homelessness, spunky gay life, drag queens and punk" in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, which happened to be down the street from his Greenwich Village apartment. He also came up with the show's ultimate title (a decision that Aronson was unhappy with, at least until Larson pointed out that "rent" also means torn apart). In 1991, he asked Aronson if he could use Aronson's original concept and make Rent his own. Larson had ambitious expectations for Rent; his ultimate dream was to write a rock opera "to bring musical theater to the MTV generation".[7] Aronson and Larson made an agreement that if the show went to Broadway, Aronson would share in the proceeds and be given credit for "original concept & additional lyrics".[7]

Jonathan Larson focused on composing Rent in the early 1990s, waiting tables at the Moondance Diner to support himself. Over the course of years, Larson wrote hundreds of songs and made many drastic changes to the show, which in its final incarnation contained 42 songs. In the fall of 1992, Larson approached James Nicola, artistic director of New York Theatre Workshop, with a tape and copy of Rent's script. When Rent had its first staged reading at New York Theatre Workshop in March 1993, it became evident that, despite its very promising material and moving musical numbers, many structural problems needed to be addressed, including its cumbersome length and overly complex plot.[7]

As of 1994, the New York Theatre Workshop version of Rent featured songs that never made it into the final version, such as:

  • "You're a Fool"
  • "Do a Little Business", the predecessor of "You'll See", featuring Benny, Mark, Roger, Collins and Angel
  • "Female to Female A & B", featuring Maureen and Joanne
  • "He's a Fool"
  • "He Says"
  • "Right Brain", later rewritten as "One Song Glory", featuring Roger
  • "You'll Get Over It", the predecessor of "Tango: Maureen", featuring Mark and Maureen
  • "Real Estate", a number wherein Benny tries to convince Mark to become a real estate agent and drop his filmmaking
  • "Open Road", the predecessor of "What You Own", with a backing track similar to this in "Your Eyes"

This workshop version of Rent starred Anthony Rapp as Mark and Daphne Rubin-Vega as Mimi. Larson continued to work on Rent, gradually reworking its flaws and staging more workshop productions.[8]

On January 24, 1996, after the musical's final dress rehearsal before its off-Broadway opening, Larson had his first (and only) newspaper interview with music critic Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times, attracted by the coincidence that the show was debuting exactly 100 years after Puccini's opera. Larson would not live to see Rent's success; he died from an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm (believed to have resulted from Marfan syndrome) in the early morning of January 25, 1996. Friends and family gathered at the New York Theatre Workshop, and the first preview of Rent became a sing-through of the musical in Larson's memory.[7][9]

The show premiered as planned and quickly gained popularity fueled by enthusiastic reviews and the recent death of its composer. It proved extremely successful during its Off-Broadway run, selling out all its shows at the 150-seat New York Theater Workshop.[2] Due to such overwhelming popularity and a need for a larger theater, Rent moved to Broadway's recently remodeled Nederlander Theatre on 41st Street on April 29, 1996.[2]

Sources and inspiration[edit]

Larson's inspiration for Rent's content came from several different sources. Many of the characters and plot elements are drawn directly from Giacomo Puccini's opera La Bohème, the world premiere of which was in 1896, a century before Rent's premiere.[10]La Bohème was also about the lives of poor young artists. Tuberculosis, the plague of Puccini's opera, is replaced by HIV/AIDS in Rent; 1800s Paris is replaced by New York's East Village in the late 1980s or early 1990s. The names and identities of Rent's characters also heavily reflect Puccini's original characters, though they are not all direct adaptations. For example, Joanne in Rent represents the character of Alcindoro in Bohème, but is also partially based on Marcello. Also, Joanne is the only Rent character whose predecessor in La Bohème is a different sex.

La BohèmeRent
Mimì, a seamstress with tuberculosis Mimi Márquez, an erotic dancer with HIV and Roger's girlfriend
Rodolfo, a poet Roger Davis, a songwriter-musician who is HIV positive and Mimi's boyfriend
Marcello, a painter Mark Cohen, an independent Jewish-American filmmaker and Roger's roommate
Musetta, a singer Maureen Johnson, a bisexual performance artist and Joanne's girlfriend
Schaunard, a musician Angel Dumott Schunard, a drag queen percussionist with AIDS, who is Collins' partner.
Colline, a philosopher Tom Collins, a gay, part-time philosophy professor at New York University and anarchist with AIDS and Angel's partner.
Alcindoro, a state counselor Joanne Jefferson, a lesbian lawyer, who is Maureen's girlfriend (Also partially based on Marcello)
Benoît, their landlord Benjamin 'Benny' Coffin III, the local landlord and a former roommate of Roger, Mark, Collins, and Maureen

Other examples of parallels between Larson's and Puccini's work include Larson's song "Light My Candle", which draws melodic content directly from "Che gelida manina";[11] "Quando me'n vo'" ("Musetta's Waltz"), a melody taken directly from Puccini's opera; and "Goodbye Love", a long, painful piece that reflects a confrontation and parting between characters in both Puccini's and Larson's work.[12] "Quando me'n vo'" is paralleled in the first verse of "Take Me or Leave Me", when Maureen describes the way people stare when she walks in the street. It is also directly referred to in the scene where the characters are celebrating their bohemian life. Mark says, "Roger will attempt to write a bittersweet, evocative song..." Roger plays a quick piece, and Mark adds, "...that doesn't remind us of 'Musetta's Waltz'." This part of "Musetta's Waltz" is also later used in "Your Eyes", a song Roger writes.

Rent is also a somewhat autobiographical work, as Larson incorporated many elements of his life into his show. Larson lived in New York for many years as a starving artist with an uncertain future. He sacrificed a life of stability for his art, and shared many of the same hopes and fears as his characters. Like his characters he endured poor living conditions, and some of these conditions (e.g. illegal wood-burning stove, bathtub in the middle of his kitchen, broken buzzer [his guests had to call from the pay phone across the street and he would throw down the keys, as in "Rent"]) made their way into the play.[13] Part of the motivation behind the storyline in which Maureen leaves Mark for a woman (Joanne) is based on the fact that Larson's own girlfriend left him for a woman. The Mark Cohen character is based on Larson's friends, cinematographer and producer Jonathan Burkhart and documentary filmmaker Eddie Rosenstein.

Playwright Sarah Schulman alleged that Rent bore striking similarities to her novel People in Trouble.[14]

The line, "I'm more of a man than you'll ever be... and more of a woman than you'll ever get!", attributed to Angel Dumott Schunard at her funeral, was previously used by the character Hollywood Montrose, who appeared in the films Mannequin (1987) and Mannequin Two: On the Move (1991). Like Angel, Hollywood performs a song and dance number and sometimes wears women's clothing. This line was originally in the film Car Wash (1976), delivered by Antonio Fargas as a flamboyant homosexual cross dresser.

The earliest concepts of the characters differ largely from the finished products. Everyone except Mark had AIDS, including Maureen and Joanne; Maureen was a serious, angry character who played off Oedipus in her performance piece instead of Hey Diddle Diddle; Mark was, at one point, a painter instead of a filmmaker; Roger was named Ralph and wrote musical plays; Angel was a jazz philosopher, while Collins was a street performer; Angel and Collins were both originally described as Caucasian; and Benny had a somewhat enlarged role in the story, taking part in songs like "Real Estate", which was later cut.[15]

Life Café

Many actual locations and events are included in, or are the inspiration for, elements of the musical. Life Café, where the "La Vie Bohème" numbers are set, was an actual restaurant (closed 2013) on 10th Street and Avenue B in the East Village of New York City.[16][17] The riot at the end of the first act is based on the East Village riot in 1988 that arose as a result of the city-imposed curfew in Tompkins Square Park.[17]

"Will I?", a song which takes place during a Life Support meeting and expresses the pain and fear of living a life with AIDS, was inspired by a real event. Larson attended a meeting of Friends in Deed, an organization that helps people deal with illness and grief, much like Life Support. After that first time, Larson attended the meetings regularly. During one meeting, a man stood up and said that he was not afraid of dying. He did say, however, that there was one thing of which he was afraid: Would he lose his dignity? From this question stemmed the first line of this song. The people present at the Life Support meeting in the show, such as Gordon, Ali and Pam, carry the names of Larson's friends who died. In the Broadway show, the names of the characters in that particular scene (they introduce themselves) were changed nightly to honor the friends of the cast members who were living with or had died from AIDS.[18]

The scene and song "Life Support" were also based on Friends in Deed, as well as on Gordon, Pam, and Ali. Originally, the members of Life Support had a solid block of the "forget regret" refrain, and they talked about remembering love. When Jonathan's HIV positive friends heard this scene, they told him that having AIDS was not so easy to accept: it made you angry and resentful too, and the song did not match that. Jonathan then added a part where Gordon says that he has a problem with this "credo...my T-cells are low, I regret that news, okay?" Paul, the leader of the meeting, replies, "Okay...but, Gordon, how do you feel today?" Gordon admits that he is feeling the best that he has felt all year. Paul asks, "Then why choose fear?" Gordon says, "I'm a New Yorker. Fear's my life."

Lynn Thomson lawsuit[edit]

Lynn Thomson was a dramaturg who was hired by New York Theatre Workshop to help rework Rent. She claimed that between early May and the end of October 1995, she and Larson co-wrote a "new version" of the musical. She sued the Larson estate for million and sought 16% of the show's royalties, claiming she had written a significant portion of the lyrics and the libretto of the "new version" of Rent.[19]

During the trial, Thomson could not recall the lyrics to the songs that she allegedly wrote, nor the structures of the libretto she claimed to have created.[20] The judge ruled against her and gave the Jonathan Larson Estate full credit and right to Rent. A federal appellate court upheld the original ruling on appeal. In August 1998, the case was settled out of court. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.[21]

Synopsis[edit]

Rent at David Nederlander Theatre in Manhattan, New York City

Act I[edit]

On Christmas Eve in Manhattan's East Village, two roommates—Mark, a filmmaker, and Roger, a rock musician—struggle to stay warm and produce their art ("Tune Up #1"). Mark's mother leaves him a voicemail wishing him a merry Christmas and trying to comfort him since his ex-girlfriend Maureen dumped him ("Voice Mail #1"). Their friend Tom Collins, a gay anarchist professor at New York University, calls and plans to surprise them at their apartment, but is mugged before entering. At the same time, Mark and Roger's former roommate and friend Benny, who has since become their harsh new landlord, has reneged on an earlier agreement and now demands last year's rent, before shutting down their electrical power ("Tune Up #2"). However, Mark and Roger rebel and resolve not to pay the rent they cannot pay and which they were promised wouldn't be a problem ("Rent"). Meanwhile, Angel, a cross-dressing street drummer (presently out of drag), finds Collins wounded in an alley and tends to him ("You Okay Honey?") - the two are immediately attracted to each other, both learning that the other is HIV positive. It is revealed that Roger too has HIV which he contracted from his last girlfriend, who committed suicide after learning of her diagnosis, which has caused Roger to fall into depression. Mark leaves the loft while Roger stays home ("Tune Up #3"), trying to compose on his guitar without success; he wishes desperately to write one last song to be remembered by before he dies ("One Song Glory"). An exotic dancer, junkie, and neighbor, Mimi, shows up at their apartment asking for help with lighting her candle, flirting with Roger in the process; however, he is clearly hesitant to return her affections ("Light My Candle"). Meanwhile, Joanne, a lawyer and Maureen's girlfriend, receives a voicemail from her parents ("Voice Mail #2").

At last, the missing Collins enters the apartment, presenting Angel, who is now in full drag and shares the money she made and the amusing story of how she killed a dog to earn it ("Today 4 U"). Mark comes home, and Benny arrives, speaking of Maureen's upcoming protest against his plans to evict the homeless from a lot where he is hoping to build a cyber arts studio. Benny offers that, if they convince Maureen to cancel the protest, then Mark and Roger can officially remain rent-free tenants. However, the two rebuff Benny's offer and he leaves ("You'll See"). Mark leaves the loft again to go help Maureen with the sound equipment for the protest, unexpectedly meeting Joanne at the stage. Initially hesitant with each other, the two eventually bond over their shared distrust of Maureen's "gaslighting" and promiscuous behaviours ("Tango: Maureen"). Mark then joins Collins and Angel to film their HIV support group meeting ("Life Support"), while Mimi attempts to seduce Roger alone in his apartment ("Out Tonight"). Roger is extremely upset by Mimi's intrusion, demanding she leave him alone and resisting any romantic feelings he may harbour for her ("Another Day"). After Mimi leaves, Roger reflects on his fear of dying an undignified death from AIDS, while the Life Support group echoes his thoughts ("Will I").

Collins, Mark, and Angel protect a homeless woman from police harassment, but she chastises them ("On the Street"). To lighten the mood, Collins talks about his dream of escaping New York City to open a restaurant in Santa Fe ("Santa Fe"). Soon, Mark leaves to check up on Roger and while alone, Collins and Angel confess their love for each other ("I'll Cover You"). Joanne hectically prepares for Maureen's show, trying to balance all of the people calling her at once ("We're Okay"). Before the performance, Roger apologizes to Mimi, inviting her to come to the protest and the dinner party his friends are having afterwards. At the same time, police, vendors, and homeless people prepare for the protest ("Christmas Bells"). Maureen begins her avant-garde, if not over the top, performance based on "Hey Diddle Diddle" ("Over the Moon"). At the post-show party at the Life Café, Benny arrives, criticizing the protest and the group's bohemian lifestyle. In response, Mark and all the café's bohemian patrons defiantly rise up to celebrate their way of living ("La Vie Bohème"). Mimi and Roger each discover that the other is HIV-positive and hesitantly decide to move forward with their relationship ("I Should Tell You"). Joanne explains that Mark and Roger's building has been padlocked and a riot has broken out; Roger and Mimi, unaware, share their first kiss. The celebration continues ("La Vie Bohème B").

Act II[edit]

Cast of Rent performing "Seasons of Love" at Broadway on Broadway, 2005

The cast lines up to sing together before the plot of the second act begins, affirming that one should measure life "in love" ("Seasons of Love"). Afterwards, Mark and Roger gather to break back into their locked apartment with their friends ("Happy New Year"). A new voicemail reveals that Mark's footage of the riot has earned him a job offering at a tabloid news company called Buzzline ("Voice Mail #3"). The others finally break through the door just as Benny arrives, saying he wants to call a truce and revealing that Mimi––who used to be his girlfriend––convinced him to change his mind. Mimi denies rekindling her relationship with Benny, but Roger is upset, and although they apologize to each other, Mimi goes to her drug dealer for a fix ("Happy New Year B").

Around Valentine's Day, Mark tells the audience that Roger and Mimi have been living together, but they are tentative with each other. It is also told that Maureen and Joanne are preparing another protest, and during rehearsal, Maureen criticizes Joanne's controlling behaviour and Joanne criticizes Maureen's promiscuous mannerisms. They break up dramatically following an ultimatum ("Take Me or Leave Me"). Time progresses to spring ("Seasons of Love B"), but Roger and Mimi's relationship is strained by Mimi's escalating heroin usage and Roger's lasting jealousy and suspicion of Benny. Each alone, Roger and Mimi sing of love and loneliness, telling each other how they feel, as they watch Collins nurse Angel, whose health is declining due to AIDS ("Without You"). By the end of the summer, Mark continues to receive calls offering a corporate job at Buzzline ("Voice Mail #4"). A dance is performed representing all the couples' sex lives ("Contact"). At the climax of the number, the two former couples break up, and Angel suddenly dies. At the funeral, the friends briefly come together to share their memories with Collins being the last to reminisce ("I'll Cover You [Reprise]"). Mark expresses his fear of being the only one left surviving when the rest of his friends die of AIDS, and he finally accepts the corporate job offer ("Halloween"). Roger reveals that he is leaving for Santa Fe, which sparks an argument about commitment between him and Mimi, and between Maureen and Joanne. Collins arrives and admonishes the entire group for fighting on the day of Angel's funeral, causing Maureen and Joanne to reconcile, but not Mimi and Roger. The group shares a sad moment, knowing that between deaths and leaving, their close-knit friendships will be breaking up. Everyone leaves except Mark and Roger, and so Mark tries to convince Roger to stay in New York. Roger, unable to handle Mimi's declining health, becomes angry with Mark and leaves. Mimi returns to say goodbye, overhears everything Roger says, and, terrified, agrees to go to rehab ("Goodbye Love"). Collins is forcibly removed from the church for being unable to pay for Angel's funeral; Benny shows compassion by paying and offering Mark and Collins drinks; Collins accepts, causing him and Collins to rekindle their old friendship, but Mark has to turn down the offer due to work commitments.

Some time later, both Mark and Roger simultaneously reach an artistic epiphany, as Roger finds his song in Mimi and Mark finds his film in Angel's memory; Roger decides to return to New York in time for Christmas, while Mark quits his job to devote his efforts to working on his own film ("What You Own"). The characters' parents, concerned and confused about their respective situations, leave several worried messages on their phones ("Voice Mail #5"). On Christmas Eve, exactly one year having passed, Mark prepares to screen his now-completed film to his friends. Roger has written his song, but no one can find Mimi for him to play it to. Benny's wife, discovering Benny's relationship with Mimi, has pulled Benny out of the East Village. The power suddenly blows and Collins enters with handfuls of cash, revealing that he reprogrammed an ATM at a grocery store to provide money to anybody with the code 'ANGEL'. Maureen and Joanne abruptly enter carrying Mimi, who had been homeless and is now weak and close to death. She begins to fade, telling Roger that she loves him ("Finale"). Roger tells her to hold on as he plays her the song he wrote for her, revealing the depth of his feelings for her ("Your Eyes"). Mimi appears to die, but abruptly awakens, claiming to have been heading into a white light before a vision of Angel appeared, telling her to go back and stay with Roger. The remaining friends gather together in a final moment of shared happiness and resolve to enjoy whatever time they have left with each other, affirming that there is "no day but today" ("Finale B").[22]

Musical numbers[edit]

Act 1

  • "Tune Up #1" – Mark, Roger
  • "Voice Mail #1" – Mark's Mother
  • "Tune Up #2" – Mark, Roger, Collins, Benny
  • "Rent" – Mark, Roger, Collins, Benny, Joanne, and Company
  • "You Okay Honey?" – Christmas Caroler, Angel, Collins
  • "Tune Up #3" – Mark, Roger
  • "One Song Glory" – Roger
  • "Light My Candle" – Mimi, Roger
  • "Voice Mail #2" – Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson
  • "Today 4 U" – Collins, Roger, Mark, Angel
  • "You'll See" – Benny, Mark, Roger, Collins, Angel
  • "Tango: Maureen" – Joanne, Mark
  • "Life Support" – Paul, Gordon, Steve, Ali, Pam, Sue, Angel, Collins, Mark
  • "Out Tonight" – Mimi
  • "Another Day" – Mimi, Roger, Ensemble
  • "Will I?" – Steve and Company
  • "On the Street" – Christmas Carolers, Squeegee Man, Mark, Collins, Angel, Homeless Woman, Cops
  • "Santa Fe" – Collins, Angel, Mark, Ensemble
  • "I'll Cover You" – Angel, Collins
  • "We're Okay" – Joanne
  • "Christmas Bells" – Christmas Carolers, Saleswoman, Collins, Angel, Mark, Roger, Cops, The Man, Mimi, Benny, Company
  • "Over the Moon" – Maureen
  • "La Vie Bohème A" – Waiter, Mark, Roger, Collins, Benny, Mimi, Angel, Maureen, Joanne, Mr. Grey, and Company
  • "I Should Tell You" – Mimi, Roger
  • "La Vie Bohème B" – Joanne, Maureen, Mark, Angel, Collins, and Company

Act 2

  • "Seasons of Love A" – Company
  • "Happy New Year A" – Mimi, Roger, Mark, Maureen, Joanne, Collins, Angel
  • "Voice Mail #3" – Mark's Mother, Alexi Darling
  • "Happy New Year B" – Maureen, Mark, Joanne, Roger, Mimi, Collins, Angel, Benny, The Man
  • "Take Me or Leave Me" – Maureen, Joanne
  • "Seasons of Love B" – Company
  • "Without You" – Roger, Mimi
  • "Voice Mail #4" – Alexi Darling
  • "Contact" – Company
  • "I'll Cover You (Reprise)" – Collins and Company
  • "Halloween" – Mark
  • "Goodbye Love" – Mimi, Roger, Benny, Maureen, Joanne, Mark, Collins
  • "What You Own" – Mark, Roger
  • "Voice Mail #5" – Roger's Mother, Mimi's Mother, Mr. Jefferson, Mark's Mother
  • "Finale A" – Homeless People, Mark, Roger, Collins, Maureen, Joanne, Mimi
  • "Your Eyes" – Roger
  • "Finale B" – Roger, Mimi, Company

Main characters[edit]

  • Mark Cohen (Lead): A struggling Jewish-American documentary filmmaker and the narrator of the show. He is Roger's roommate; at the start of the show, he has recently been dumped by Maureen.
  • Roger Davis (Lead): A once-successful-but-now-struggling musician and ex-lead singer and rock guitarist who is HIV-positive and an ex-junkie. He hopes to write one last meaningful song before he dies. He is having a hard time coping with the fact that he, along with many others around him, knows that he is going to die. His girlfriend, April, killed herself after finding out that she was HIV-positive. He is roommates with Mark.
  • Mimi Márquez (Lead): A Hispanic-American S&M club dancer and drug addict. She lives downstairs from Mark and Roger, is Roger's love interest, and, like him, is HIV-positive. She is also Benny's ex-lover.
  • Tom Collins (Support): An anarchist professor with AIDS. He is described by Mark as a "computer genius, teacher, and vagabond anarchist who ran naked through the Parthenon." Collins dreams of opening a restaurant in Santa Fe, where the problems in New York will not affect him and his friends. He was formerly a roommate of Roger, Mark, Benny, and Maureen, now just Roger and Mark, until he moves out.
  • Angel Dumott Schunard (Support): A young drag queen who is addressed as a female when in drag and as a male when out of drag. Angel, who has AIDS, is a street percussionist with a generous disposition; Collins' love interest.[23]
  • Maureen Johnson (Support): A performance artist who is Mark's ex-girlfriend and Joanne's current girlfriend. She is very flirtatious and cheated on Mark (presumably with Joanne). Larson considered Maureen a lesbian, despite her previous relationships with men, and he specifically identified her as "lesbian" in the script itself.[10]
  • Joanne Jefferson (Support): An Ivy League-educated public interest lawyer and a lesbian. Joanne is the woman for whom Maureen left Mark. Joanne has very politically powerful parents (one is undergoing confirmation to be a judge, the other is a government official).
  • Benjamin "Benny" Coffin III (Support): Landlord of Mark, Roger, and Mimi's apartment building and ex-roommate of Mark, Collins, Roger, and Maureen. Now married to Alison Grey of the Westport Greys, a very wealthy family involved in real estate, and he is considered yuppie scum and a sell-out by his ex-roommates. He at one time had a relationship with Mimi.

Minor characters[edit]

  • Mrs. Cohen: Mark's stereotypical Jewish mother. Her voicemail messages are the basis for the songs Voicemail #1, Voicemail #3, and Voicemail #5.
  • Alexi Darling: The producer of Buzzline, a sleazy tabloid company that tries to employ Mark after his footage of the riot makes primetime. Sings Voicemail #3 and Voicemail #4.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson: The wealthy parents of Joanne Jefferson, they leave her Voicemail #2. Mr. Jefferson is also one of the a cappella singers in Voicemail #5. Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson usually sing the solos in Seasons of Love.
  • Mrs. Davis: Roger's confused mother who calls in Voicemail #5, asking continuously, "Roger, where are you?"
  • Mrs. Marquez: Mimi's Spanish-speaking mother who sings in Voicemail #5, wondering, in Spanish, where she is.
  • Mr. Grey: Benny's father-in-law who wants to buy out the lot.
  • The Man: The local drug dealer whom Mimi buys from and Roger used to buy from. Based on the character Parpignol from La Bohème.[24]
  • Paul: The man in charge of the Life Support group.
  • Gordon: One of the Life Support members.
  • Steve: One of the Life Support members.
  • Ali: One of the Life Support members
  • Pam: One of the Life Support members
  • Sue: One of the Life Support members.
  • In Larson's script, the roles of all of the Life Support members are encouraged to take on the name that someone in the cast (or production) knows or has known to have succumbed to AIDS. In the final Broadway performance, Sue is renamed Lisa.
  • Squeegee Man: A homeless person who chants "Honest living!" over and over during "Christmas Bells".
  • The Waiter: A waiter at Life Cafe.
  • The Woman with Bags or Homeless Woman: A woman who calls Mark out for trying to use her to assuage his guilt during "On The Street".
  • The Preacher or The Pastor: The Preacher kicks Collins out of the church because he can't pay for Angel's funeral.

There are also many other non-named roles such as Cops, Bohemians, Vendors, Homeless People.

Reception[edit]

Rent received several awards including a Pulitzer Prize and four Tony Awards.[25]

Critical reception of Rent was positive not only for its acting and musical components, but for its representation of HIV-positive individuals. Many critics praised the portrayal of characters such as Angel and Collins as being happy, with positive outlooks on life, rather than being resigned to death.[26] While critics and theatre patrons had largely positive reviews of the show, it was criticized for its stereotypically negative portrayal of lesbian characters and the "glamourization" of the East Village in the late 1980s.[27]

Billy Aronson said, "For the record, although I was ambivalent about Jonathan’s ideas for Rent when we were working together on it, I have come to love the show. And as tragic as it is that he didn’t live to see his work become a huge success, I believe he knew it would be. In our last conversation I asked how the show was going and he said, with complete assurance, that it was incredible."[6]

Cultural impact and legacy[edit]

Mel B as Mimi at Nederland in 2004.

The song "Seasons of Love" became a successful pop song and often is performed on its own. Because of its connection to New Years and looking back at times past, it is sometimes performed at graduations or school holiday programs.

RENT-heads[edit]

Rent gathered a following of fans who refer to themselves as "RENT-heads." The name originally referred to people who would camp out at the Nederlander Theater for hours in advance for the discounted rush tickets to each show, though it generally refers to anyone who is obsessed with the show. These discounted tickets were for seats in the first two rows of the theater reserved for sale by lottery two hours prior to each show.[29] Other Broadway shows have followed Rent's example and now also offer cheaper tickets in efforts to make Broadway theater accessible to people who would otherwise be unable to afford the ticket prices.

The term originated in Rent's first months on Broadway. The show's producers offered 34 seats in the front two rows of the orchestra for each, two hours before the performance. Fans and others interested in tickets would camp out for hours in front of the Nederlander Theater – which is on 41st Street, just outside Times Square – to buy these tickets.[29]

Popular culture references[edit]

The television series The Simpsons,[30]Family Guy,[31]Friends,[32]Will and Grace,[33]Scrubs,[34]Glee, The Big Bang Theory, Gilmore Girls, Felicity,[35]Saturday Night Live, The Office, Franklin & Bash, 2 Broke Girls, Girls, Seinfeld, The Neighbors, Modern Family, Smash, Supernatural, Superstore, and Bob's Burgers have included references to the show.

The film Team America: World Police includes a character who plays a lead role in Lease, a Broadway musical parody of Rent; the finale song is "Everyone has AIDS!".[36]

Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch wears a Rent T-shirt and speaks of his aspiration to play the role of Angel.[37]

The off-Broadway musical revue Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back includes parodies of Rent songs such as "Rant" ("Rent"), "Ouch! They're Tight" ("Out Tonight"), "Season of Hype" ("Seasons of Love"), "Too Gay 4 U (Too Het'ro 4 Me)" ("Today 4 U"), "Pretty Voices Singing" ("Christmas Bells") and "This Ain't Boheme" ("La Vie Bohème").[38]

In the film Deadpool, Wade Wilson is seen wearing a Rent T-shirt. Stan Lee also referenced one of the songs ("Cover you") when he said as the DJ in the strip club "You can't buy love.." - "but you can rent it... "

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the composer and writer of the Broadway show Hamilton, has cited Rent as a main source of inspiration.[39] He also referenced the show in a verse of the song "Wrote My Way Out" on The Hamilton Mixtape in the line "Running out of time like I'm Jonathan Larson's rent check".

Productions[edit]

New York workshops and off-Broadway production[edit]

Rent had its first staged reading at New York Theatre Workshop in March 1993.[7] A further two-week New York Theatre Workshop version was performed in 1994 starring Anthony Rapp as Mark and Daphne Rubin-Vega as Mimi, and more workshops followed. The show opened on 1996, again at New York Theatre Workshop, and quickly gained popularity off-Broadway, receiving enthusiastic reviews. The New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley called it an "exhilarating, landmark rock opera" with a "glittering, inventive score" that "shimmers with hope for the future of the American musical."[45] Another reviewer wrote, "Rent speaks to Generation X the way that the musical Hair spoke to the baby boomers or those who grew up in the 1960s," while the New York Times similarly called it "a rock opera for our time, a Hair for the 90s."[46] The show proved extremely successful off-Broadway, selling out all of its performances at the 150-seat theatre.[2]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Due to its overwhelming popularity and the need for a larger theater, Rent moved to Broadway's previously derelict Nederlander Theatre on 41st Street on April 29, 1996.[2] On Broadway, the show achieved critical acclaim and word-of-mouth popularity. The production's ethnically diverse principal cast originally included Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Fredi Walker.

The production's controversial topics and innovative pricing, including same day-of-performance tickets, helped to increase the popularity of musical theater amongst the younger generation.[47] The production was nominated for ten Tony Awards in 1996 and won four: Best Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (Heredia)

On April 24, 2006, the original Broadway cast reunited for a one-night performance of the musical at the Nederlander Theatre. This performance raised over ,000,000 for the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation, Friends In Deed and New York Theatre Workshop. Former cast members were invited, and many from prior tours and former Broadway casts appeared, performing an alternate version of "Seasons of Love" as the finale of the performance.[49]

Rent closed on September 7, 2008, after a 12-year run and 5,123 performances,[50] making it the eleventh-longest-running Broadway show.[51] The production grossed over 0 million.

Original cast ensemble members Rodney Hicks and Gwen Stewart returned to the cast at the time of the Broadway closing. Hicks played Benny and Stewart played the role she created, the soloist in the song "Seasons of Love". In addition, actress Tracie Thoms joined the cast at the end of the run playing Joanne, the role she portrayed in the 2005 film version.[50] The last Broadway performance was filmed and screened in movie theaters as Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway in September 2008. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray formats on February 3, 2009.

North American touring productions[edit]

Successful United States national tours, the "Angel Tour" and the "Benny Tour", launched in the 1990s. Later, the non-Equity tour started its run. There was also a Canadian tour (often referred to as the "Collins Tour").

The Angel tour began in November 1996 in Boston. Anthony Rapp joined the cast for the Chicago run, and Daphne Rubin-Vega joined for the Los Angeles run. The tour finished in San Francisco in September 1999. Other members of the Angel cast included Carrie Hamilton, Amy Spanger, Luther Creek, Kristoffer Cusick, and Tony Vincent.

The Benny Tour began in July 1997 in San Diego, California, at the LaJolla Playhouse. Michael Grief, the original director of the Broadway show was also the artistic director of the LaJolla Playhouse and was instrumental in arranging for the Benny tour to begin in the smaller city of San Diego rather than Los Angeles, California. It originally featured Neil Patrick Harris in the role of Mark Cohen. The Benny tour generally played shorter stops and often-smaller markets than the Angel Tour did. Other cast members included Wilson Cruz and d'Monroe.

Tours ran each season from 2005 to 2008. Cast members throughout the run included Aaron Tveit, Ava Gaudet, Declan Bennett, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Constantine Maroulis, Dan Rosenbaum, Heinz Winckler, Anwar Robinson, Christine Dwyer and Karen Olivo.[citation needed] In 2009, a national tour starring Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp, reprising their original Broadway roles, launched in Cleveland, Ohio. Original Broadway Cast member Gwen Steward also appeared, alongside Michael McElroy as Collins, The tour ended on February 7, 2010, in Sacramento, California.[52] A 20th-anniversary touring production of Rent began in Dallas on September 20, 2016.[53]

UK productions[edit]

The show made its UK premiere on April 21, 1998, at the West End's Shaftesbury Theatre and officially opened on May 12, 1998. The original cast included Krysten Cummings as Mimi Marquez, Wilson Jermaine Heredia as Angel Schunard, Bonny Lockhart as Benny, Jesse L. Martin as Tom Collins, Adam Pascal as Roger Davis, Anthony Rapp as Mark Cohen, and Jessica Tezier as Maureen Johnson. The show closed on October 30, 1999, after one-and-a-half years. Limited revivals took place at the Prince of Wales Theatre from December 4, 2001, to January 6, 2002; December 6, 2002, to March 1, 2003 (featuring Adam Rickett as Mark and Caprice as Maureen). There was also a successful production for a limited run in Manchester in 2006 with an additional 'goodbye' performance in 2008 from the Manchester cast.

On October 16, 2007, the heavily revised production titled Rent Remixed opened at the Duke of York's Theatre in London's West End. Directed by William Baker, it was set in the present day. The cast included Oliver Thornton (Mark), Luke Evans (Roger), Craig Stein (Benny), Leon Lopez (Collins), Francesca Jackson (Joanne), Jay Webb (Angel), Siobhán Donaghy (Mimi), and Denise Van Outen (Maureen). From December 24, 2007, the role of Maureen was played by Jessie Wallace.[54] The production received generally unfavorable reviews. The Guardian gave it only one out of five stars, writing, "They call this 'Rent Remixed'. I'd dub it 'Rent Reduced', in that the late Jonathan Larson's reworking of La Bohème, while never a great musical, has been turned into a grisly, synthetic, pseudo pop concert with no particular roots or identity."[55] The production closed on February 2, 2008.[56]

The production radically altered elements of the musical including defining the characters of Mimi, Angel and Mark as British. Songs were reordered (including Maureen's first appearance as the Act I finale). The rehaul of the score was masterminded by Steve Anderson and featured radically rearranged versions of Out Tonight, Today 4 U, Over the Moon and Happy New Year.

A one-off Rent - The 20th Anniversary Concert was held at the Blackpool Opera house Monday November 11, 2013 A 20th anniversary tour opened at Theatr Clwyd in October 2016 before playing a two-month run at the St James Theatre, London. The cast included Layton Williams as Angel and Lucie Jones as Maureen.[57] The production then continued to tour the UK.[58]

In 2018 an immersive production of RENT premiered at Frogmore Paper Mill in Apsley, Hemel Hempstead.[59] The Cast included Aran Macrae (Roger), Connor Dyer (Mark) and Lizzie Emery (Mimi). The show opened on July 10, 2018, and ran until July 28th.

Off-Broadway revival[edit]

The show was revived Off-Broadway at Stage 1 of New World Stages with previews starting July 14, 2011 and a scheduled opening of August 11, 2011. This was the first New York Revival of the show since the original production closed less than three years earlier. The production was directed by Rent's original director Michael Greif. Almost the entire show was different from the original yet the reinvention did not please the critics, who complained that the new actors did not have a feel for the characters they were playing and it made the show feel contrived.[60] The Off-Broadway production of RENT closed on September 9, 2012.[61]

Additional productions[edit]

In 1999, an Australian production featured Justin Smith as Mark, Rodger Corser as Roger and Christine Anu as Mimi. The tour began in Sydney and finished in Melbourne. A production in Perth, Western Australia was mounted in 2007 and featured Anthony Callea as Mark, Tim Campbell as Roger, Courtney Act as Angel and Nikki Webster as Maureen.

The Dublin production had an extended run at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin in 2000. It starred Sean Pol McGreevy as Mark, Rachel Tucker as Maureen and Allyson Brown as Mimi under the direction of Phil Willmot. The Swedish production premiered on May 15, 2002 at The Göteborg Opera in Gothenburg, Sweden, playing until June 8, 2003. Sarah Dawn Finer played Joanne.[62]

Rent veteran Neil Patrick Harris directed a production at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, CA. The production played a three night engagement, August 6–8, 2010. The cast included Vanessa Hudgens as Mimi, Aaron Tveit as Roger, Skylar Astin as Mark, Wayne Brady as Collins, Telly Leung as Angel, Tracie Thoms as Joanne, Nicole Scherzinger as Maureen, Collins Pennie as Benny, and Gwen Stewart as Seasons of Love soloist (and additional roles).[63]

In 2017, the first tour for the German speaking countries was mounted by Berlin theatrical producer Boris Hilbert [de]. The production travelled Germany, Austria and Switzerland and was directed by the British opera director Walter Sutcliffe.[64]

Rent: School Edition[edit]

In 2007, an abridged edition of Rent was made available to five non-professional acting groups in the United States for production. Billed as Rent: School Edition, this version omits the song "Contact" and eliminates some of the coarse language and tones down some public displays of affection of the original.[65]Shorewood High School in Shorewood, WI became the first high school to perform an early version of the adaptation in May 2006. The high school was selected to present a workshop performance as part of Music Theatre International's work to adapt the musical for younger actors and potentially more conservative audiences.[66] As of 2008, Music Theatre International began licensing "Rent School Edition" for performances by schools and non-professional amateur theaters in the United States and around the world.

International productions[edit]

Rent has been performed in countries around the world, including Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Greece, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Panama, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Russia, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, South Africa, Australia, Guam, New Zealand, Israel, Puerto Rico, Austria, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Czech Republic.

The musical has been performed in twenty-five languages: Danish, Estonian, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak, Greek, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Hebrew, Czech, and Catalan.

Recordings[edit]

Cast/Audio recordings[edit]

Main article: Rent (albums)

A cast recording of the original Broadway cast recording was released in 1996; it features all the music of the show on a double-disc "complete recording" collection along with a remixed version of the song "Seasons of Love" featuring Stevie Wonder.[67]

The later 2005 film version (see below) also resulted in a double-disc cast recording of the complete score used in the movie[68] There are also many foreign cast recordings of international productions of the show.[69]

Live stage filming[edit]

Main article: Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway

The final performance of the Broadway production of Rent, which took place on September 7th 2008, was filmed live and, cut together with close-up footage from a day of filming in August of the same year, released as Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway in cinemas with high definition digital projection systems in the U.S. and Canada between September 24 and 28, 2008. Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway was released on February 3, 2009 on DVD & Blu-ray formats.[70][unreliable source?]

Adaptations[edit]

Film[edit]

Main article: Rent (film)

In 2005, Rent was adapted into a movie directed by Chris Columbus with a screenplay by Stephen Chbosky. With the exception of Daphne Rubin-Vega (who was pregnant at the time of filming) and Fredi Walker (who felt she was too old for her role), who played Mimi and Joanne respectively in the original Broadway cast, the original Broadway cast members reprised the principal roles. Released on November 23, 2005, the film remained in the box office top ten for three weeks, receiving mixed reviews. Several plot elements were changed slightly, and some songs were changed to spoken dialogue or cut entirely for the film. The soundtrack was produced by Rob Cavallo, engineered by Doug McKean and features renowned session musicians Jamie Muhoberac, Tim Pierce and Dorian Crozier.

Rent: Live[edit]

Main article: Rent: Live

In May 2017, Fox announced plans to air a live television production of Rent in late 2018. However, on September 25, 2017, Fox announced the official air date for Rent Live! would be Sunday, January 27, 2019. Marc Platt is set to serve as executive producer along with the estate of Jonathan Larson.

Upcoming documentary[edit]

Filmmaker and Rent alum Andy Señor, Jr. is currently producing a documentary, following his journey producing the musical in Cuba in late 2014. This production of Rent was the first Broadway musical to premiere in Cuba since diplomatic relations between the two countries became strained during the Cold War.

Awards and honors[edit]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Original West End production[edit]

20th-Anniversary UK tour[edit]

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2017 WhatsOnStage Awards Best Regional Production Nominated

References[edit]

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