Rent is a rock opera. The music and lyrics are by Jonathan Larson and the musical has been based on the opera Laboheme. Rent tells the story of a group of young artists and musicians who are struggling to survive in New York’s lower east side. The group is poor and lives under the shadow of the HIV/AIDS virus.
Originally the musical was first seen in a workshop production that ran for only three weeks at the New York Theatre Workshop in 1994. The musical moved into an off Broadway production in New York. The rock operas creator Jonathan Larson died suddenly the night before his musicals off Broadway premiere. Rent won a Pulitzer Prize and the production was a great success. The musical moved to the Broadway theatre, Nederlander Theatre in April 1996.
Rent was awarded critical acclaim and won a Tony Award for best musical. This rock opera has been attributed to helping increase the popularity of musical theater in a new generation. The musical ran for twelve years and there were five thousand one hundred and twenty four performances. This made Rent the eighth longest running Broadway show ever. The success of the show made for several national tours and many foreign productions. 2005 saw it made into a motion picture, and the movie features most of the original cast.
The dramaturge Lynn Thomson was hired by the New York Theatre Workshop to help re-work Rent. She made the claim that she had helped to co-write a new version of the musical. It was her claim that the new version had been written between May and October of 1995. She sued the estate of Jonathan Larson for $40US million; she also wanted to claim sixteen percent of the royalties from the show. Lynn Thomson claimed to have written a significant portion of the lyrics and the music. During the court trial Ms Thomson could not recall the lyrics of the songs or the structures to the libretto she had claimed to have developed. The Jonathan Larson Estate was given full credit and the rights to Rent. There was an appeal and the court upheld the original ruling. The case was settled out of court in 1998 and the terms of settlement were not disclosed.