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“RENT” Returns to NYC

March 5, 2011
Rent (film)
Image via Wikipedia

“Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes…How do you measure – measure a year?” 

It seems like only yesterday “Seasons of Love” echoed from the Nederlander Theatre’s stage.   And yet, it’s been three and half years since the beloved “RENT” closed on Broadway and 12 years since its original debut in 1996. 

 But, come July of this year, RENT is set to take the stage once again, only this time Off Broadway and with a brand new cast of “unknowns.”  

 The critically acclaimed, award-winning show “RENT” tells the story of eight struggling artists and musicians trying to survive and create while living in New York’s Lower East Side, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.  Based on Puccini’s La Bohème, this rock and roll opera, written by Billy Aronson with music and lyrics by Jonathon Larson gained critical acclaim and won a Tony Award for Best Musical along with a Pulitzer Prize and countless other industry awards and recognitions.

 So, it’s no surprise that producers are eager to capitalize on the first revival of “RENT”.  In a New York Times article this week, it explains that television executives know the money is in reruns and compares the potential success of Broadway revivals to profitable television reruns like “Cheers,” “Seinfeld” and “Star Trek.” 

 The risk to move a show from Broadway to Off Broadway and be in “rerun mode” is significant since historically it’s the other way around.  But, in 2009, “Avenue Q,” the popular puppet musical, proved that it can be done.  The key – a profitable brand name requiring less marketing…like “RENT.” 

 In addition to an Off Broadway budget the show will also minimize costs by choosing a “cast of unknowns.”  The lower salaries for these yet-to-be-discovered artists coupled with today’s job market and the pool of talented, young stars is both a brilliant business move, as well as, PR strategy. 

Dialing in American Idol and Oprah’s “Own Your Own Show,” the producers of “RENT” are not only rekindling an iconic musical, but they’re tapping audiences emotionally by connecting them to the eight undiscovered artists getting their “big break.”  Open calls in NYC and LA start March 18 and anyone can audition.  And if you can’t make it to NY or LA – have no fear – you can upload your audition to YouTube until March 18.  Then, from March 21 – 27, people vote for their favorite and the winner receives round-trip transportation to NYC for an official “RENT” audition.

For artists, this is the time that dreams come true.  And for “RENTheads” and theater enthusiast, alike, this is the time to welcome back the show that united artists across all genres and brought musicals to the masses…and not just theater buffs, like me.

What Broadway shows do you want to see back “Off Broadway?”  Do you think it could pull off an “Avenue Q?”     

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2011 11:29 am

    Seems like only yesterday the song Seasons of Love echoed from the walls at Parkland High School when you sang it with the Chorale….brings back lots of memories; may have to see the show this time!

  2. Amy permalink
    March 5, 2011 7:46 pm

    Sadly, I’ve never seen the show. I definitely want to come up and see it this summer. You know I always root for the underdog!

    • Chris permalink
      April 3, 2011 6:41 pm

      Rent beloved? Are you kidding? Those are 120 minutes that seemed like 525,600 that I’ll never by get back. Moreover, how is the off-Broadway reincarnation going to minimize costs? Other than underpaying childish American Idolish street performers, there were no sets, costumes, or anything else of value in the original. Indeed, Rent was the emperor’s new clothes of its generation, a theatrical piece nothing masquerading as legitimate theater. Rent was so bad, it made landlords look good.

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