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See This Play: “Rent”


Do I really need to sell you on “Rent”? We’re talking about one of the most famous musicals of all time. A show that redefined the genre. The quintessential ’90s rock musical. Need I go on?

Well, I’m going to anyway, because I have a confession to make: I have now seen “Rent” five times. That may sound like a lot to some of you and not so much to others (judgmental Rentheads). My point is, I think I know a good “Rent” production when I see it, so I feel comfortable saying that the “Rent” now at the Curran Theatre is the best I’ve ever seen.

Let’s start with the obvious: this “Rent” features the original Mark and Roger, Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal, in the roles they helped create. And guess what—13 years later, they’re still damn good. For those of us who grew up on the original cast album, it’s a surreal treat to see these two do what they do best. Pascal’s Roger has changed a bit but not for the worse. Rapp’s Mark, on the other hand, is time capsule-true. (Incidentally, if someone could point me to the fountain of youth he’s been drinking from, that would be great.)

Normally I’d take some time to go into the other aspects of the show: the book, the music, the choreography. But here’s the thing. “Rent” is “Rent”: you either love it or you don’t. For those “Rent” haters, steering clear goes without saying. For “Rent” aficionados, this is a rare treat. Of course, you knew that already.

So instead, allow me to extol the virtues of the rest of the cast, all of whom hold their ground alongside the veterans. My personal favorites? Lexi Lawson as Mimi Marquez. She’s nothing like original cast member Daphne Rubin-Vega (or Rosario Dawson for you “Rent” film fans), but she’s that perfect blend of sexuality and naïveté. I was also fond of Haneefah Wood’s Joanne, a stunningly underappreciated character. As if “Tango: Maureen” (pictured) isn’t one of the musical’s highlights.

I’ll spare you a lengthy spiel on my personal connection to “Rent” or how much this particular production meant to me. See the show for yourself. Make your own memories.

See “Rent” at the Curran Theater, from now to October 18. Tickets can be purchased on the SHN website.

Photo courtesy SHN.