Rent is one of the best argument I can think of, in favor of making movies out of musicals. Yes, things will inevitably get lost, choices will have to be made that not everyone will like, but it’s still important to make those movies. Do you know why? Because they help bring those shows and their message to a larger audience.
And I don’t just mean the people who can’t afford to spend 40 bucks on the cheapest ticket on Broadway (let alone the potential hundreds of dollars necessary for a trip to New York, because they don’t live there) but might spend the 10 bucks (or whatever) on a movie ticket. I mean people who don’t live in theater towns, who might not even be aware that a show exists. I mean 2005 me, who didn’t even know that Rent existed until I saw the commercials for the movie on tv. Yes, the musical had existed for 11 years at that point, and had been on Broadway for 9.
(A small aside: my mom was very surprised that I didn’t already know Seasons of Love. She was also surprised when I first told her that I’d never heard Defying Gravity before we went to see Wicked for the first time. It’s not like those songs play on top 40 radio, which is all we get around here. How did she know about those songs? Has she been watching the Tonys all this time?)
A decade later, I’ve still never seen Rent live, and some theater hipsters are probably judging me for that. But I do own a DVD of the movie (and I saw it in theaters, the week-end it came out), and the OBC recording (and i learned it by heart), and a copy of Without You, Anthony Rapp’s autobiography, and I’ve rented the “last on Broadway” DVD though I haven’t bought it. If you are “what you own”, then I guess that makes me a Rent fan.