RENT: Filmed Live On Broadway – DVD Review

rentbroadway

“Just came to say goodbye, Love.” – Mimi Marquez – RENT

RENT has been one of the most influential musicals of the past decade. It has inspired parody in Team America: World Police, it has inspired theater with recent Tony winner In the Heights, and it has inspired the lives of countless fans. RENT is a story of hope, of love, of acceptance, and is an experience not to be missed. Now Rentheads can re-live the experience of seeing RENT live on Broadway with this DVD, filmed during the final Broadway performance on September 7, 2008.

RENT is centered around a small group of close-knit friends living in New York Citys Lower East Side: Roger, Mark, Tom Collins, Angel Dumatt Schunard, Mimi, Joanne, and Maureen. Mark is a filmmaker trying to get his big break, who used to date Maureen. Maureen, a performer, broke up with him for Joanne, a lawyer. Tom Collins is a philosophy professor at MIT, who is mugged and left on the street, when Angel, a drag queen finds him and takes care of him. The two both have HIV. Roger is Marks roommate and has HIV as well. Hes a musician trying to get his big break. He meets Mimi an exotic dancer who also has HIV, and they begin a relationship. The story is based on Puccinis classic opera La Boheme.

RENT has had such an impact on its audience, whether or not theyve seen the actual Broadway production. The 2005 movie version of the musical doesnt quite do it the justice that it so desperately deserves. For starters, the 2005 movie excluded several important songs that helped with plot progression and character development. “Christmas Bells,” ” You Okay, Honey?” and all of the “Voicemail” songs were cut from the movie version as were some important plot points like the suicide of Rogers girlfriend.

Theres just something magical about watching this show onstage. The sets are minimal, yet functional and are the perfect compliment to the Bohemian characters. In the movie, theres more room for showmanship and grand sets, which is something that this show doesnt need. In fact, it seems contradictory.

The Broadway cast is incredible as well. I always have my personal anxieties about new cast members not living up to their predecessors, but everyone is fantastic. Fans will recognize Tracie Thoms (Death Proof), as she reprises her role as Joanne from the 2005 movie version, and she brings so much to the character. The star of RENT: Filmed Live on Broadway in my opinion is Renee Elise Goldsberry (TV: One Life to Live, Broadway: Nala in The Lion King, Nettie in The Color Purple) who plays Mimi Marquez. Shes stunningly beautiful and conveys every emotion of this character with ease, from playful in “Out Tonight” to heartbroken “Goodbye, Love”. Her dancing ability is something to marvel at as well. Shes just plain fantastic and Im looking forward to watching her career. Angel is always a character to remember, thats just how she was written. Justin Johnston plays Angel in this cast, and plays the character with all the style and heart that Angel was meant to have. I know that some people have a hard time seeing anyone but the great Idina Menzel playing Maureen, or Anthony Rapp playing Mark, or Adam Pascal as Roger, but this cast holds their own. They know they have big shoes to fill, especially on the last night of the musicals run on Broadway, but they do a wonderful job.

RENT: Filmed Live on Broadway is an essential addition to any theater lovers DVD collection. Unlike the movie version, this DVD captures the heart and soul of the Broadway show. The beauty of RENT finally being on DVD in its original form is that you relive the experience as many times as you want, with a front row ticket that you didnt have to win in the lottery.

Presented in a 1.77:1 aspect ratio, widescreen, and with Dolby Digital Surround Sound.

RENT: The Final Days on Broadway – This featurette shows backstage antics by the cast, shows some of how they filmed this DVD, and shows behind the scenes of the very last show. My favorite moment – Where we see all of the former castmembers backstage during the final number in the show before they come onstage to join the cast in “Seasons Of Love”. 36:54

The Final Curtain Call – The former castmembers come onstage to sing “Seasons of Love”. 8:11

The Wall – Footage of the famous wall outside the Nederlander theater on Broadway where audience members have left lasting tribute to the show and to Jonathan Larson. 6:00

The Final Lottery – Since RENT began it’s run on Broadway, it has held a lottery for tickets to fill the first two rows of every performance. The idea was to get people out to see the show who wouldn’t be able to afford tickets. This featurette shows the massive crowd and the lottery proceedings before the final show. 9:02

National Marfan Foundation PSA – This PSA stars original castmember Anthony Rapp and educates on Marfan Syndrome, which is what RENT creator Jonathan Larson died of the night before the show opened in 1996. 2:00

Previews: Angels & Demons, Elegy, Center Stage 2, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Rachel Getting Married, I’ve Loved You So Long.

There’s a reason why RENT has been the subject to imitation and parody – because it’s just that good. Whether you’re already a fanatical Renthead, just a casual fan of the movie version, or are just curious about this highly influential musical, RENT: Filmed Live On Broadway is the DVD for you. It’s the next best thing to seeing the production live onstage (which you can also do with this summer’s American tour starring Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal).

………………………………………


Sony presents RENT: Filmed Live On Broadway. Directed by: Michael John Warren. Starring: Tracie Thoms, Renee Goldsberry, Will Chase. Written by: Jonathan Larson. Running time: 165 minutes. Rating: NR (Author’s note: But not appropriate for children). Released on DVD: February 3, 2009. Available at Amazon.com

Tags: