Rent: A Musical Analysis

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In my paper I will be discussing what makes Rent such an extraordinary rock musical, the care that went into creating it, and how it was different from what came before. I will provide analysis of characters and the plot, plus I will be describing the importance and relevance of certain songs. Jonathan Larson wrote one of the most iconic mainstream musicals of the last half-century. The legacy that he tragically had to leave behind is absolutely glorious and magnificent. Rent was loosely based on the story of La Boheme, an opera composed by Puccini, but takes many liberties, especially in modernizing the story to fit in New York City. It first premiered in 1993 in the Workshop stage, then made it to Off-Broadway and Broadway in 1996. It ran…show more content…
Few of the musical numbers are direct callbacks to La Boheme, but “Light My Candle” almost completely recreates the scene when Rodolfo and Mimi first meet and fall in love. Larson modernized it as he did with the rest of their character traits, by changing her lost key to a stash of heroin, among other small aspects. However, the actions that drive the scene are effectively the same. Mimi enters, looking to have Roger light her candle, she drops her stash, and he pretends that he hasn’t found it. The song “La Vie Boheme” also pays homage to a scene in La Boheme, in addition to its title. The cast of the opera, just as they do in the modern show, visits a café together without the means of paying for their meal. “Goodbye Love” draws parallels to a scene in La Boheme when Mimi overhears Rodolfo complaining to Marcello about his inability to care for…show more content…
Though the first thing we learn about her is that she is afflicted with AIDS, she persistently lives an existence based on kindness and giving. The audience is immediately endeared to her when she saves Collins at the top of the show and patches him up. Right off the bat she is proven to be generous and tenacious, as she tells Collins, “I do not take ‘no,’” before healing him, buying food for him, Mark, and Roger, and then telling the absurd tale of how she procured the money to do so. As Angel and Collins fall in love, we see the impact she makes on the group of friends’ outlook. In the movie version of Rent, Roger is shown to have a change of heart and attend Life Support with Collins and Angel. This is a huge step for him because it’s been established that he never goes out and doesn’t want to talk about his illness. Angel’s presence is most profoundly felt when she is no longer there. At her funeral, when almost all of the characters have only known her less than a year, each of them is heartbroken. They share their most treasured memories of the outstanding character. Maureen says, “Angel always said how lucky she was that we were all friends. But it was us, baby, who were the lucky ones.” Angel’s death represents a turning point for the whole cast. Roger and Mimi have a split and fight at the funeral, as do Maureen and Joanne. Mark finds himself utterly alone. Roger moves to Santa Fe. Mimi starts getting sicker and returns to Benny.
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