Rent

Rent

4.6 45
by Jonathan Larson
     
 

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In these pages, Rent offers what most theater books can't: a chance to step behind the curtain and feel the electricity of a stage phenomenon as it unfolds.

Rent has single-handedly reinvigorated Broadway and taken America by storm. Sweeping all major theater awards, including the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for drama, as well as four 1996 Tony Awards

Overview

In these pages, Rent offers what most theater books can't: a chance to step behind the curtain and feel the electricity of a stage phenomenon as it unfolds.

Rent has single-handedly reinvigorated Broadway and taken America by storm. Sweeping all major theater awards, including the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for drama, as well as four 1996 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Score for a Musical, Rent captures the heart and spirit of a generation, refleting it onstage through the emotion of its stirring words and music, and the energy of its young cast. Now, for the first time, Rent comes to life on the page — through vivid color photographs, the full libretto, and an utterly compelling behind-the-scenes oral history of the show's creation. Here is the exclusive and absolutely complete companion to Rent, told in the voices of the extraordinary talent behind its success: the actors, the director, the producers, and the librettist and composer himself, Jonathan Larson, whose sudden death, on the eve of the first performance, has made Rent's life-affirming message all the more poignant.

Editorial Reviews

Time
The most exuberant and original American musical to come along this decade.
Newsweek
Rent is the breakthrough musical for the 90's.
Richard N. Bolles
Anne Fisher's new book is wonderfully fascinating and helpful. Her wisdom, balance, broad perspective, knowledge of statistics, interviews with employers, and sensitivity to real questions from the workplace, make this book a treasure.
Tom Peters
I've worked for myself, mostly happily, for the last 20 years. So I don't need ‘career advice'. Yet I always go first to ‘Ask Annie' when I pick up the latest issue of Fortune. Anne Fisher is a wise human being and a heck of a writer-communicator. This is a very special book. For all of us!

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780688154370
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/28/1997
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
355,592
Product dimensions:
9.42(w) x 13.85(h) x 0.84(d)

Read an Excerpt

Creation

"How do you document real life, when real life's getting more like fiction each day," Mark, the filmmaker narrator of Rent, asks at the start of the show's title song. It's one of many frighteningly prophetic lines playwright Jonathan Larson wrote before he died suddenly of an aortic aneurysm at age thirty-five — and before his show became the biggest theater story in two decades. Larson's death and Rent's subsequent success are such epic tales of tragedy and triumph that it's no wonder they've already taken on mythic stature. "If we had written that scene together, of him dying at that point, I would never have let him put it in," says Eddie Rosenstein, himself a filmmaker, and one of the playwright's best friends. "It was perfect Jonathan: he was always over the top that way. Dramatically, it made sense. The dramatic question of his life was over."

The story of Rent has a strange trajectory. For seven years, Larson, a talented playwright, composer and pianist who was eager to remake the American musical and hungry for a career breakthrough, had worked on an update of the opera La Boheme, relocating Giacomo Puccini's tale of Parisian artists to New York City's East Village. The off-Broadway production of Rent was scheduled to go into previews January 25, 1996, at New York Theatre Workshop. The night before, at the final dress rehearsal, the play received a standing ovation. Larson then went home, put a pot of water on the stove for tea, collapsed and died alone on the floor of his apartment. Two weeks later, Rent opened to phenomenal acclaim. Within three months, the show moved to Broadway, its youngcast became stars and Larson won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize. Rent swept the theater awards that spring, including the Tonys; the cast recording was nominated for a Grammy; and a film is in the works. Rent not only invigorated the moribund Broadway musical form; it offered a testament to lives lived on the edges of creation and death — a testament that struck a chord with thousands.

To those who discover Rent by being excited and moved by the performance, or by the CD or even by this book, Jonathan Larson's life is the finite chapter within the show's ongoing story. But for those who knew him, his absence is a painful reminder of a career that should still be evolving, works never seen that must be unfolding in some parallel universe. As Jonathan's friend Ann Egan says, "For us, when Rent began, Jonathan ended. For the actors, Rent catapulted their careers, and now they're bigger stars than Jonathan ever was in his lifetime." Rent is a moving show that has changed the lives of many of its participants and fans. Hopefully this book conveys some of that joyous, transforming spirit. Yet after talking to people who knew Jonathan and witnessing their sadness and anger, it's hard not to think of this story as, ultimately, a tragedy. "As you wander on through life Bud, whatever be goal/Keep your eye upon the donut, and not upon the hole." Jonathan's father, Al Larson, used to tell his children, quoting an old advertising slogan. Talk to Al now and he'll say, shaking his head, "Rent and its success to the world can be a consolation for the fact that Jonathan is not here, but as a parent, if I had a choice. I'd dump the whole thing and take Jonathan."

"The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation," Mark sings in"La Vie Boheme." One of Jonathan's missions while writing was to celebrate art and art-makers. "Rent also exalts 'Otherness,' glorifying artists and counterculture as necessary to a healthy civilization," he wrote in a 1992 statement of concept. The production of his play gathered together a group of people who embodied the creative spirit. "Jonathan spoke eloquently about demons and fears surrounding creativity," says Mark Setlock, who played Angel in the 1994 workshop production of Rent and understudies on Broadway. "He speaks volumes to anyone who wants to make it as an artist in this society."

That faith in creative work helped drive the writers of this book.We never met Jonathan Larson. He's the hole in the donut we hadto write around, which is why we interviewed more than seventypeople, trying to capture as many curves as possible. This story ofRent's creation is told in a Rashomon chorus of voices, as Al Larsonputs it, where every point of view reveals the speaker as well as thesubject. For Jonathan's voice, we're left with a few randomquotes — and of course, the show's libretto. In it you'll find the bursting-with-love belief in life that characterized Jonathan Larson to those who knew him, and this gift to the rest of us known as Rent.

Meet the Author

Jonathan Larson won the Pulitzer Prize for Rent, as well as Tony Awards for Best Book, Best Lyrics, and Best Musical, three Drama Desk Awards and numerous others. His "overnight success" came after fifteen years of writing, composing, and performing. He wrote the musical Superbia and the rock monologue tick, tick...BOOM! and composed a variety of music for children, including songs for "Sesame Street," audio books, and the video Away We Go! Mr. Larson died unexpectedly of an aortic aneurysm on January 25, 1996, the night before Rent's first performance. He was thirty-five.

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4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
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Any fan of Rent the musical will love this book. It gives a lot of background and behind-the-scenes information about how Rent came to be. It also includes the full libretto of the show.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
i love the show rent. it has ALWAYS been one of my favorites. for all rentheads out there beware, see the show on its oringinal stage one last time on june,1 they will closing it down. they will, however, continue touring around the world. but come show your pride for rent!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Truly, this is one of the greatest things I have ever owned. You only think you know everything about Rent until you've read this book. It is truly amazing, and inspiring. Kudos to the many who put it together. This has shown me an amazing scope into the life and death of Jonathan Larson, and as a fan, I wish I could tell him thank you. This book is something any Renthead should not be without.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are a RENT fan, a fan for years, or a new fan, I'd say this book is worth your money! It has excellent photography's, some RENT history, and a libertto. This is worth your money, you'll love it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is honestly my most prized possetion. It has everything anyone who likes rent needs to know including the libretto. Even for non Rent fans, the story is just so touching and sad and I honestly can't think of anyone i would not reccomend this to.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I cherish this book. I fell in love with the show 3 years ago, have seen it many times since then, and finally decided to buy this bible. I don't know how I survived without it. Jonathan Larson was a truly amazing and gifted man, performer, writer, and this book really tells of his story, has great pictures, and includes the full libretto. So why are you still sitting there reading this? Go and buy this book now!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
the rent bible is a must for all rentheads in the world. period.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've never seen the actual show myself, and that in itself proves that this is a remarkable book. It not only describes in detail the struggles that Jonathan Larson had in writing RENT, it shows his life story and exactly where RENT came from, which is itself a remarkable story. RENT is awe-inspiring, but this book is also a gem to have on its own.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an outstanding book for a true Broadway fan, and especially a dedicated RENT fan and renthead. From the first time you open the cover of the book you are drawn into the world that we now know of as RENT. You will learn the journey of Jonathan Larson and of his dream of changing the American musical. You will learn how he took many of his own life experiences and transformed them into the storyline of the musical. You will learn the highs and lows of the show, and the untimely death of Jonathan Larson on the eve of the opening of RENT. Also included is a synopsis of the show, including all lines and song lyrics. I first purchased this book the first time I saw RENT, and even though it might look big, bulky, and maybe even a tad bit expensive, you will walk away knowing that you just purchased a bit of history, renthead history that is.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my Bible. It is for ultimate rentheads. If you like Rent, you HAVE TO get this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
if you know rent then you know the name "rentheads" applys to rent's greatest fans; you know the people you see outside the box office in tents at 4 am to get 20 dollar rush tickets to that nights performance. The color pictures of the Original Broadway Cast are breathtaking. Accounts of RENT's rise to the broadway stage directly quoted from those that were there from day one. And the tragic story of Jonathan Larson, the creator. I highly reccomend this book to any RENT or broadway lover.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book so much. It's so interesting to know more about the genius that wrote this amazing show. i'm extreamly interested in Johnathan Larson's story but also saddened by it. I wish he knew the impact his show has had on the world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
RENT is the best! This book is the best. It is of the premiere on Broadway with people talking about Jonathat Larson such as Stephen Soundheim, Jonathan's family, the two stars of RENT, Adam Pascal (Roger) and Daphne Rubin-Vega (Mimi), and many others. It also includes the full libretto with beautiful color pictures. It is great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a definate must have for any true RENT follower. You can learn how RENT came to be and begin to understand the emotions behind Jonathan Larson's smash hit, RENT.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book not only describes the play perfectly, but gives great insight into the life of Jonathon Larson. It has great photography, and the libretto makes things a lot easier to understand. I recommend it for people who have never seen the show, or have seen it 10 times. It's great!