Let me begin by unequivocably stating that I love RENT. The songs are beautiful, the characters are compelling and sympathetic, and the story is modern and relevant. That said -- if you are going to New York and can catch only one show on Broadway, don't see RENT. Buy the soundtrack instead and then see it when it hits your town (or a town near you) with the touring company.
Recommend this product?
Why? Because the current Broadway cast is not significantly better than the touring companies and is no where near as good as the original cast you can hear on the soundtrack. I had the great opportunity to see RENT with the original cast still intact in 1997. Jonathon Larson wrote some of the parts for the original cast members who had been with the show since it had been in workshop. When parts are written for specific people, tagged to their ranges and unique abilities, you miss something by seeing someone else perform that role. Don't get me wrong, RENT with any of its current casts is well worth the $65 (or thereabouts) price of of admission, and especially worth the $20 rush tickets, but you can get a very similar experience by seeing one of the touring companies perform it. Save your Broadway experience for a new show that still has the original cast. And do not, by any means, see CATS.
When you do get to see RENT, I highly recommend buying the soundtrack first and familiarizing yourself with the story and the songs. You will spend less time at the show trying to figure out the storyline and more time appreciating the beauty of the songs and the unique character of a live performance.
I've seen a number of Broadway shows -- on Broadway and in their touring companies. RENT may be my favorite. Still, it's not for everyone. It deals with graphic sexual topics, AIDS, death, homelessness. It's the La Boehme for the 1990s, after all. It is thought-provoking, eye-opening and inspirational -- "No day but today!"
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