When I was in the eleventh grade, I remember sitting with my friends at lunch one day while one of them was stressing over a monologue she had to perform in her English class (Somehow, despite having the scariest English teacher to roam the halls of St. Mary, the gods of fate smiled upon me and my class was one of the only ones that didn’t have to perform this torturous act.) I asked her what she was going to read and she responded, “Oh, it’s a piece from Rent.” I was familiar with the show, but had never seen or heard anything from it. She proceeded to gush about it and the music, then offered to lend me her soundtrack. So, I took it home that afternoon and listened to it. And then I listened to it again. And again. And again. By the time I got to school the next day I had the entire soundtrack memorized. I was hooked.
It took me another four years before I actually got to see the show on stage. Our seats were in the third(!!) row and we were a little late so we had to try and sneak in during the opening number of “Rent.” I can remember the name of the actor who played Mark (Andy Meeks) and how I had a massive crush on him. I remember my heart actually skipping a beat when I heard the opening chords of “Seasons of Love” in the second act. I remember my voice cracking when I cheered at the end of “I’ll Cover You (Reprise)” and since I was RIGHT THERE, the actor playing Collins looked down and smiled at me. I am not a crier, especially at the theatre, but I came pretty damn close that day. A year later, the film was released and I dragged my two closest friends to see it with me opening night. I actually clutched my chest and held my breath when the music started. Was it as good as it is on stage? Of course not. But it was the cast, the ORIGINAL cast, the faces that went with the voices that I fell in love with when I was 16 years old. I ended up seeing it three times in theatres and every single time, I’d find something new to swoon over.
Why all this Rent nostalgia? On Tuesday I saw the show live and in person for the third time in my life. This time, with Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp and Gwen Stewart reprising their roles from the original production. I can’t even begin to put into words how epic this is for me. Of all the Broadway shows I worship and adore (and believe me, there are many,) Rent has always been the one I wish I could have seen on stage with the original cast. And if I could only see one or two members of the cast perform live, Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp would top my list.
The production was, of course, phenomenal. It amazes me the effect this show can have on me, to this day. I know every note of every song, every line of dialogue, every sight gag and prop, and yet I still find myself laughing and gasping and moved deeply, despite knowing everything that will happen before it happens. The emotion in Rent is so heartfelt, so visceral, that ten years after being introduced to it through a CD played on repeat in my bedroom, the music still touches me. The story still touches me. And to see the men that brought my two favourite characters to life bring them to life once more, on stage before my eyes… that touches me. I’m going to be Rent-obsessed for the next two months or so, I promise you.
In the past six months, I have managed to meet Bruce Campbell (an actor I’ve worshipped since I was ten years old,) attend a Stephen King book reading/Q & A, and watch two of my all-time favourite Broadway performers in my all-time favourite Broadway show. If somehow, by the grace of God I manage to actually get tickets to see Kevin Smith in Toronto this February, I may just die of pure bliss on the spot. I don’t know why, but I suddenly find myself being overwhelmed with incredible opportunities to meet my idols, or to experience them reveling in what they do best, what made me love and idolize them in the first place. I wish I could properly convey the effect these opportunities have me. It’s extraordinary.
I have been REALLY bad at keeping up with my resolutions this week. I am determined to remedy this.
“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss.” – Rent