Ok, so I am watching the dvd of the final performance of RENT on Broadway. And I have to say, I love it. Watching this show, I can't imagine why some people don't take it seriously. It is such a beautiful show.
Most of the objections that I have heard from people have to do with the ideas behind the show. You know, the "It's all about a bunch of slackers with AIDS who refuse to get a job, so they can't pay their rent" argument. And really, when you boil away the show down to a sentence like that, yeah, it will sound stupid. But that is not at all what it is about. RENT is a metaphor. It's about looking for "connection in an isolating age" It is not about slackers, it is about people who refuse to conform to other people's ideas of what they should do - staying true to your vision without selling out. Yes, a number of the characters do indeed have AIDS - but why is that a bad thing? Consider the time in which it is set. 1990s New York City - a time when AIDS came out to the public in a wave. So many people were struck by it - and they had to learn to live with that horrible, degenerative disease.
RENT was groundbreaking. It was one of the first rock operas, and it dealt with issues and life that hadn't been presented in a musical before. And one person did it all. Like it or not, you have to admit that Jonathon Larson is talented. Music, Lyrics, and Book all by him. That is not easy to do, and he did it well.
It is just so powerful, and it's so real. Its interesting, the juxtaposition they are in. Life is too real for them - so hard - and they're looking for an escape from it. But at the same time, they are also searching for something that is more real, something they can own. Trying to live all they can now, in the moment, because that may be all they have left. Finding something, or someone to connect with.
Why do I like it so much? The disillusionment, the fight, the pain, the despair, the love, the joy, the heart, the message, the words. It's just a beautiful story.
I challenge you to watch it or listen to it. Check judgements at the door and keep an open mind - and really listen to it. The stage version if possible, the movie if you have to. The movie is good, but as Hollywood has to do, they changed some elements and they had to cut a large amount of the music - but it does have most of the original cast members and the story is the same, so it's still pretty good.
Seriously, experience it.