The names Idina Menzel, Anthony Rapp, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L.Martin, Adam Pascal and Daphne Rubin Vega did not mean much until the release of, perhaps one of the best known musicals, Rent Musical, in 1996. The musical was a Pulitzer Prize winning hit Off Broadway that quickly transferred to Broadway and won the Tony Award for the Best Musical. Jonathan Larson was the genius behind the whole idea of Rent. He was noted for the serious social issues of multiculturalism, addiction and homophobia explored in his work. Unfortunately for him, he did not manage to see his now world famous musical Rent on stage, since he had passed away one evening before. Nevertheless, the cast decided to go on with the release and somehow turned the show into a service in his memory. They say down on chairs and sang in front of Jonathan’s parents and friends. This is just one of the reasons that makes Rent so special and so loved worldwide.
The musical is a gritty love story about friends and couples in the early 90s East Village, written by Jonathan Larson and inspired by Puccini’s La Boheme. Rent closed in 2008, after a run of 12 years on Broadway. In relatively quick fashion, the producers of the original have decided to bring back the show and mount what they hope will be a more intimate version, with the same Tony Award nominated director, Michael Griefd, in the less costly confines of Off Broadway. While many in the new cast have credits in national tours and ensembles of Broadway shows, none of them have the career profile of, say, Ms. Menzel, who went on to win a Tony Award as Elphaba in Wicked and become an inspiration for many younger theatre actresses.
Among the new Rent Musical leads are Annaleigh Ashford in the role of Maureen Johnson, and Adam Chanler Berat as Mark Cohen, previously played by Anthony Rapp. Matt Shingledecker will play the moody guitarist Roger Davis, previously played by Adam Pascal. Arianda Fernandez will reprise the role of the drug addicted stripper Mimi Marquez. Corbin Reid, who has had small parts in Sister Act and American Idiot on Broadway, will play Joanne Jefferson. The cast is almost ready and the show will be good to go. Rentheads all over the world are looking for the opening night of this new production.