I just saw "Rent" and I was not moved

I’ll never be able to mention this to my girlfriend, so I’ll just post it here. This really isn’t an attempt to flame anything, I just feel like saying this without fear of sitting in the doghouse for a few days.

So she took me to see Rent last night. She’s seen it 5 times and shelled out $45 bucks apiece to sit in the balcony. For the past 4 years I’ve heard how great a show it is and how some people just have this almost mythical devotion to the show, but honestly, I didn’t really care for it all that much. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was a really good production and a good show - the music and singing is really good and I enjoyed the portrayal of some of the issues in the show: relationships, AIDS, sexuality, drug abuse.

But I guess what I’m saying is just that I didn’t agree with the show. Because, as I see it, it’s basically just about a bunch of slackers who bitch a lot.

I guess my biggest problem I had was with the way that Benny, the rich guy, was portrayed. He has money, so he’s yuppie scum for much of the show until he agrees to pay for the drag queen’s funeral. He owns property being occupied by homeless people and squatting tenants and he’s vilified to the audience because he wants to develop it.

And then Mark and Roger keep complaining about not having heat or electricity. Well, what do you expect when you live in an abandoned warehouse? It’s called the real world, deal with it.

Q: “How are we going to pay last year’s rent?”
A: Get a job and quit fucking around with the guitar

I enjoyed myself and had an entertaining time, but I really failed to have my own rent inspired epiphany. And before anyone wants to jump on me for being insensitive, I get it. My problem has noting to do with gays or druggies or AIDS or homeless people. I think those parts were good. My guess is that the show has less to do with the plot and more to do with the characters, and if that’s the case then I feel better. But I still didn’t see what the big deal is about the show in general. It was a good show, but I probably won’t pay to see it again next year, iykwim.

Is there anyone else who feels this way or am I alone?

I was fantatic about this show when it first came out, did the 25 hour waiting-on-line for front row seat thing, got winked at by the actors who KNEW you had waited in line for an obscene about of time. I loved the message that your friends can be your family. That every day is important when you’re dying. The strength and bravery of people who KNOW they’re going to die soon, but still keep living each day as if it were their last.

But I totally know what you’re talking about. If it helps, in the workshops it was more clear that Benny was their ex-roommate, a Bohemian who sold out and married for money. His hypocrisy was what bothered them the most in the original version, that he had become exactly the person he had complained about. Of course, the whole show is a remake of La Boheme, so the fact that it had a weak plot has more to do with the original opera than the musical.

I saw it with a near-original Broadway cast. These were the actors that worked with the composer, Jonathan Larson, before he died. Really, if you know the story about how the show was written, and how Larson suffered writing the show, and died the night of the tech rehersal, it takes on a whole new meaning. Especially “One Song Glory.” All that stuff about “one song before I go, glory.” and such.

I was in Toronto and saw Phantom. Mostly because my ex-fiencee just raved about it and so did everyone else, especially if you could see it up there, where they had this tremendous stage with all these trap doors and such.

Similar to your feelings for rent, I thought it was okay, but certainly no “epiphany.” I saw a performance of Les Miserables in Toledo, OH that was much more inspiring.

To each their own, though.

You hit the nail on the head when you said Rent is more about the characters than the plot.
I got to see it for free last year in SF. We volunteered as ushers. It was toward the end of the run and in the middle of the week, so we had pretty good seats. I enjoyed the production. I wasn’t blown away by the songs as much as I was the acting. There were scenes that were absolutely, hilarious, heart breaking, thought provoking and downright upsetting. Everything you may want to find in a big time production.

I saw it in Toronto, too. It was interesting for the special effects, but the story didn’t move me a bit. The love story was too sudden to be convincing. I felt utterly annoyed by that, by the fact that everyone raved beforehand and I didn’t get why.

Ignatius, I had the same problem with “Titanic.” OK, I had a LOT of problems with “Titanic,” but one of them was the tiresome old “all rich people are evil, all poor people are good and noble” nonsense so many writers, filmmakers and playwrights love to spout.

I might add (and I will add, for that matter) that, as a feminist, I also get tired of the simplistic “all women are good and pure, all men are evil scum” plots you see so much of . . .