Rent’s 20th Anniversary Tour Resonates Like It’s 1996 All Over Again
When Rent debuted on Broadway, the theatre world was forever changed. For the first time in such a major way, issues of AIDS, LGBT couples, and more were brought to the forefront, and all done in the loud, bombastic manner of rock music.
Since Rent debuted, much has changed in the world. Aids, while still serious, is not considered the death sentence it once was, as there are medicines like PrEP to prevent HIV infection, and other medicines for management. Also, LGBT rights have made great strides, as gay marriage is currently legal in the USA and transgendered rights continue to be brought to the forefront as well.
With all that being said, does Rent still have a place in the theatre?
Recently, I got the chance to check out the 20th Anniversary production of Rent at New Jersey’s State Theatre and I can safely say it resonates like it’s 1996 all over again.
Sure, there are some dated items in the show- namely, the pay phones and remnants of a Bohemia that has largely now been taken over by high end real estate. The main themes in the show, though, are still quite relevant. Living life like today is your last day, having no regrets, measuring life in love, trying to figure out your identity and where you fit in in the grand scheme of things… these themes are all still relevant today, even in a world that has evolved so much since the show premiered.
From the second the production began, I immediately found myself feeling like I was sitting in the Nederlander Theatre on Broadway all over again, watching Rent, which I saw over ten times there. I was just as drawn in as ever, and, at the end of the production, found my eyes swelling with tears, myself emotionally moved, and my body jumping to my feet with rapturous applause.
While I wasn’t initially sure what I would think of this production, as I saw the off-Broadway revival in 2011 that still makes me shudder to think of- as it was that bad- I absolutely felt like this production was as good as it had been when it was on Broadway.
If you get the opportunity to see the Rent 20th Anniversary Tour production, which is currently touring the USA, I highly recommend you do so. You won’t regret it and, even if you’ve seen it multitudes of times before like me, you will still find much to love.
Also, as an addendum, if you’re in the New Jersey area, the State Theatre is an excellent venue to check out a show or concert at. It’s got tons of seats and is beautiful inside.