I’ve loved Rent since I first heard the cast recording in 1997. I saw it in New York in 1999 and again when it came to Tulsa in 2000. A few years ago, there was talk of a possible film version, but nothing ever came of it until now.
While on one hand I appreciate whenever a musical uses the same actors as the stage version, my main concern is that this particular cast is getting a bit long in the tooth to convincingly play Bohemian slackers. Rapp, Diggs, Pascal and Menzel are all in their mid-thirties while the characters they play are a decade younger. This is the exception where I might have gone with a different (and younger) cast. (Lest anybody cry age-ism, I’m older than all of them.)
One of my favorite parts of seeing the play were the phone calls (having listened to them for years on the CD, in which they were filler, it was cool seeing how they were acted out); another was the manic explosion in the first number. I hope both of these transfer.
I agree about the ages of the cast members, but hopefully it will be shot in such a way as to be believable. That also reminds me of another concern of mine: Will the movie be presented as a period piece? Because so much has changed since the material was written. And not just the stuff about AIDS and AZT. We really are living in a different time.
When Rent first opened, it was compared a lot to Hair. And as with Hair, we’ve now got a film being made out of the source play about a decade after the play’s opening. Watching the film version of Hair, I kind if wonder if they knew they were making a period piece. Sure, there were references to things like draft cards and whatnot, but the Sixties were over by then, and I don’t mean in a chronological sense. The culture and the counterculture had changed significantly since Hair opened on Broadway, but I’m not sure the people making the movie really got that. Maybe because, although enough time had passed for the culture to change, too little time had passed (and things changed too gradually) for people to really be able to see that. Or maybe Milos Forman was just clueless, I don’t know.
But I think 2005 is just as different from 1996 as 1979 was from 1968. I hope Chris Columbus understands that.
I was thinking the same thing when I saw the cast. And film is not as friendly as the stage is to preserving that “youthful look.”
I think it has to be filmed as a period piece (it was a period piece within a year. That’s much more clear now). If they know that going in, it’ll work. If there’s an attempt to make it timeless, it’ll hurt to watch.
I read that James Rado was depressed when directing an L.A. stage revival of Hair more than 15 years ago when one of the stars asked “Just who is this Timothy Leary character they keep talking about?” Even then the cast was way too young to have a clue what they were talking about.
I’d have been depressed, too. I mean, I was born four years after Hair closed and I would have been thirteen or fourteen when that revival was staged and I’d heard of Timothy Leary. Not that every young person would have, mind you, but you kind of expect people in the theatre to be a little more worldly than that.
I am very excited. I’ve been a huge fan of RENT since it came to LA in 1998 and I’ve been looking forward to a movie ever since that failed Spike Lee project was in the works a few years back. Chris Columbus as director, well, is a bit of an odd choice, but everything I’ve read about him seems to suggest that he knows what he’s doing. One aspect that’s changing is the time frame. Rather than setting it in 1996, the movie’s moving it back to the very late 80’s (I believe 1989). I’m not sure why, but I believe some bits of the musical were already dated by 1996, so the late 80’s, when Jon Larson began work on it, makes a little more sense.
Remember on Law & Order a little while ago, Detective Green was shot and is in the hospital? Rent is why. Jesse L. Martin is reprising his role in Rent and they cleared some time for him in the L&O series by having his character get shot.
I’m excited about many of the original stage actors appearing. Apprehensive about Chris Columbus at the helm, but willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now. I’ll certainly see it, and probably in the first week or two in the theater. Let’s hope they don’t cut any good songs (as they did with “Class” in the movie version of Chicago) or add any Larson B-sides or songs by other writers.
Oh, and MidnightRadio, is the screenname from Hedwig? If so, brilliant!