RATING (0 to ****): ***1/2
There's a four-day limited engagement (well, three now)* for those of you who up to its closing could never make it to see the musical of the '90s, "Rent". For a comparatively measly price of $20, you can enjoy it with a few other people you know at a local digital theater. And maybe in a couple years, we will finally see a DVD that will ensure musical fans will not have to accept the needlessly disappointing 2005 film as a substitute.
Simply put is this: if you loved the musical on stage, you will love "Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway", which has everything but the original cast. Given how worn-out and aged they all sounded in the movie, the concept of fresh new voices isn't a bad thing.
Now, mentioning DVD. What the videography gives us the benefit of are close-ups, which above anything else show the facial expressions more effectively. But what any theatre buff will tell you is that the stage gives you one objective angle and it's up to you to look-- which is the fun of it. Company numbers like [i]Christmas Bells[/i] are filled with overlapping lyrics, and the editor cuts way too fast for anyone's good. Multi-angle was invented for this, and if Sony ever releases it on disc (they'd be stupid not to), this feature is a must.
The play: on paper, "Rent" sounds incredibly dated, and I'm not mentioning the now-unheard of technology of pagers, but the recurring element of AIDS, which several characters are diagnosed with. In the decade since, education has been very effective at proving that while there is no cure, the disease itself is very preventable.
Fortunately for this play, there is more than a social cause to keep it going. If nothing else, Jonathan Larson's rock opera is sure to keep you electrified, often to the point of bursting. The frequently cynical dialogue is delicious enough to fall in love with each and every one of these jobless Bohemian characters as they rebel against the establishment-- in the end of Act I, they devote a song to listing and paying tribute to every taboo in history, in an upbeat manner that spiritual predecessor "Hair" couldn't do in three separate songs.
Probably because we're given room to acknowledge it's all way over-the-top, so even if you don't support the nihilism of our protagonists, it won't ruin your enjoyment of the show. And... yes... the music is just too addictive to be upset about.
Unlike many epic-length movies, in its full-text filming of the play (a live performance complete with the audience), "Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway" [b]does[/b] include a 10-minute intermission for you to stretch your legs and other stuff if you really did get a large soda.
The show contains a nice surprise right after the final bows, but I don't think you needed me to tell you that. For Rentheads, there really is no discussion. For those who haven't seen the show, this is a great way to see it.
MPAA: Not Rated (but would be R for language, drug content and some sexuality)
Runtime: 2 hours, 32 minutes including intermission (the play itself runs 132 minutes, and no post-credits clips)
*CORRECTION (9/26): I got my dates wrong, thinking it was the 24th when seeing it. The show is not playing tonight, and locally it's playing on Saturday and Sunday varying between noon and 2PM. So yes, check your local theater listings carefully if you plan on seeing.