20-Day Countdown! The Top 20 Tony Performances of My Lifetime: #8: RENT, 1996

Eight days until the Tony Awards! We are at #8 on my 20-day Countdown of the Top 20 Tony Performances of My Lifetime.

When Rent opened on Broadway, it revolutionized Broadway for the new generation.  I don't think much more can be said on the matter than that, and I don't think that statement can be too wisely disputed.  Enough said.

Rent follows the lives of a group of artistic twenty- and thirty-somethings all dealing with their shifting lives and shifting selves in the time of HIV/AIDS, the coming millennium, changing times in Alphabet City, and finding the one artistic dream that will make each character somebody.  The show succeeded in touching our hearts because the characters are so alive, so vivid, so passionate, and so much like you and me (well, okay, if you're the artistic type!).  The show is a rock musical by Jonathan Larson, based on Puccini's opera La bohème.   Replace Puccini's tuberculosis with HIV/AIDS and 1800's Paris with New York's East Village in the late 1980's/early 1990's, and you've got yourself Rent.

In an extremely sad turn of events, Larson died suddenly the night before the off-Broadway premiere, which added a heartfelt passion to the show that the message, despite all the sorrow, must be brought forth.  The show won a Pulitzer Prize and moved to Broadway's larger, yet still intimate, Nederlander Theatre in April 1996, with an original cast including Taye Diggs, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, and Daphne Rubin-Vega, and it closed in September 2008, after a 12-year run of 5,124 performances, becoming the ninth-longest-running Broadway show at the time, winning four Tonys, and grossing over $280 million.

Without further ado, the stellar cast of Rent in a (sorry, yes, it's quite shortened!) medley of the tear-jerker “Seasons of Love" and the rockin' “La Vie Bohème" (my personal favorite in the whole show!)

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