The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings





Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants









Free Updates
Writing for Us

Butterfly Valves,Globe Valves,Plug Valves link check valve, ball valve, valves Butterfly valves 2011.06.05, Gate valve,, Ball Valves,Gate Valves,Check Valves globe valve, butterfly valves, flange
China Valve manufacturer and Supplier

A CurtainUp Review

Rent, Now with Snap, Crackle and Pop
Manley Pope and Joey Fatone
Manley Pope and Joey Fatone
The raison d'être for our re-visit and re-review of Rent is the arrival of *NSYNC's Joey Fatone in the cast. Happily, not only can we report that this pop star is a welcome addition, but also that the show has as much snap in its step as ever and, much to our surprise, has benefited enormously from some evident re-direction and re-staging which makes it, in a number of ways, better than it's ever been.

For those, like me, who saw Rent in its early heyday, now well over six years ago, the original cast will always be the definitive one, and especially so with Anthony Rapp's performance as Mark. Mr. Fatone, however, fills Mark's shoes admirably. When singing, it's hard to imagine a better replacement. In the speaking parts (less plentiful but not unimportant, he still leaves a bit more to be desired. Perhaps it is not surprising for someone who made his name as a singer (and dancer); he appears far more comfortable, confident and effective in that mode.

The remainder of the current cast includes the same Roger (Manley Pope) I saw three years ago (when I wrote the review which follows below). His is a terrific performance even if his voice lacks the rather remarkable dexterity of Adam Pascal who originated the role. (On the night I saw this performance, the role of Mimi, normally played by Karmine Alers, was performed by the understudy, Antonique Smith, so I can't speak to Ms. Aler's performance.) All of the other major characters acquit themselves well; Mark Richard Ford's Tom Collins was a standout.

After all this time, one might expect a dampening of the cast's enthusiasm; not so here. This cast is as vital as any. Rent, it seems, has grown with age, rather than tarnished. Lessons have been learned, and executed. The choreography -- hard to notice in much of the original staging -- has been augmented and is far more expressive. And the show reveals new and significant directorial attention, both in terms of the nuances of performance -- the show is funnier and more risqué -- and, significantly, in the way it is staged. The effect is far greater clarity, most noticeable in the second act which I had previously criticized. A great deal of credit goes to the production team for not resting on its manifold laurels.

So if you have heretofore escaped jumping on the Rent bandwagon, now is as good a time as any, and if you've seen it but not in a while, you owe it to yourself to take another look. The credit box at the bottom of my earlier review, below, is still accurate, except for the current cast which is as follows: Karmine Alers (seen with understudy Antonique Smith), Mayumi Ando, Maggie Benjamin, Amy Ehrlich (seen with Dominique Roy), Joey Fatone, Mark Richard Ford, Stu James, Justin A. Johnston, Darryl Ordell, Todd E. Pettiford, Manley Pope, Chad Richardson, Jai Rodriguez, Myiia Watson-Davis and Maia Nkenge Wilson --L.G. (9/12/02)

--- 1999 Review ---
The tragic drama behind the scenes of Rent seems apocryphal but, alas, is true. Jonathan Larson's Pulitzer Prize/Tony Award-winning modern musical about life and death in the East Village, loosely based on La Boheme, did indeed start its run at New York Theatre Workshop on the very day of his untimely death. Its quick subsequent ascent to Broadway qualifies it as the overnight sensation of the nineties. As it happens, it's more than worthy.

Rent concerns a year in the life of two roommates, Mark (Jim Poulos) and Roger (Manley Pope), their friends and lovers, old and new. Mark, a filmmaker and the occasional narrator lives life mostly as the vicarious fulcrum of three relationships. Roger is a rock musician, an ex-junkie and HIV+. Not getting out much these days, he meets, and is immediately attracted to, his downstairs neighbor, Mimi (Maya Days). She knocks on his doors because she needs a match to light a candle. Recognizing that she is a junkie, he at first resists her advances, although she is eventually more persuasive, at least intermittently. (It subsequently develops that she is a dancer in an S&M bar, and HIV+ as well.)

An old friend, Collins (Rufus Bonds, Jr.) calls and is invited over. Before the call ends, he is mugged and disconnected. A drag street performer, Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia), comes to his aid and, by the time they arrive at Mark and Roger's apartment, have become lovers. Both are HIV+. Seconds after the call from Collins, the phone rings again; this time it is Benny (Jacques C. Smith), another old friend who is now their unfriendly landlord. He demands the rent, which they don't have. Still another ring brings a call from Maureen (Christina Fadale), a performance artist and Mark's ex-girlfriend, now a lesbian. She asks for help preparing for a protest concert in the vacant lot next door. Mark heads to the lot, where he meets Maureen's new lover, Joanne (Danielle Lee Greaves).

Act One takes place on Christmas Eve. As the evening progresses, everyone eventually heads to Maureen's performance and then to the Life Cafe, where a confrontation with Benny (who, it turns out had previously dated Mimi) prompts a lively defense of "La Vie Boheme". Act Two covers the next twelve months. The sense of community with which Act One ends is soon "rent" asunder: Mark sells out, Roger decides to move away, Maureen and Joanne fight and split up, Mimi returns to her drugs and Angel dies. The following Christmas Eve finds the group together again, sadder, wiser and armed, ultimately, with a bittersweet lesson: "No Day But Today".

divning the usually-uncrossable bridge between pop music and musical theater, Larson's powerful, emotional score is Rent's heart. Sometimes mis-described as rock opera (a misnomer fueled at least in part by its fleeting bow to Puccini), it is neither. Alternately hard-driving and elegantly somber, the music and lyrics owe as much debt to Menken and Ashman, Bock and Harnick and Larson's putative mentor, Sondheim, as to Lennon and McCartney much less Springsteen or Bon Jovi. Precious little of it is "pop operatic" in the Lloyd Webber or Les Misérables sense and, except for a few of Roger's guitar riffs of "Musetta's Waltz," it bears little resemblance to Eric Clapton either. It may sound louder and harsher than what one expects from musical theater, and it may follow Diane Warren's lyric-writing conventions more closely than Oscar Hammerstein's, but Rent is really a fairly conventional book musical once you scratch the surface.

That book is less than perfect, especially in Act Two when it starts to move, but it matters little. The key to Rent's success has always been the remarkable intensity and enthusiasm with which the young cast performs Larson's songs, and the way Larson's poignant story connects with its audience. You're likely to be drawn in too.

Although the original cast of unknowns who found themselves catapulted into the national spotlight have mostly departed long ago, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, who won a Tony when he originated the role of Angel, has recently returned to the cast. He brings with him a joyful, exuberant spirit. Michael Greif's direction leaves a great deal to be desired from a story-telling standpoint, his talent for getting thrilling performances out of fresh-faced novices (as well as Bernard Telsey's casting talents in getting them there to start with) cannot be gainsaid.

Much has been made of Rent's significance in the continuing development of musical theater. Although it certainly speaks to a new generation of theater-goers as few other shows have, it's not clear its progeny have been able to sustain the momentum. All the more reason to see the genuine article.


By Jonathan Larson
Original Concept and Additional Lyrics: Billy Aronson
Directed by Michael Greif
with Yassmin Alers, Rufus Bonds, Jr., Maya Days, Shelley Dickinson, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Owen Johnston II, Darryl Ordell, Christina Fadale, Manley Pope, Jim Poulos, Danielle Lee Greaves, Chad Richardson, Jacques C. Smith, Carly Thomas, Byron Utley and Kim Varhola
Set Design: Paul Clay
Lighting Design: Blake Burba
Costume Design: Angela Wendt
Sound Design: Kurt Fischer
Choreography: Marlies Yearby
Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes with 1 intermission
Nederlander Theatre, 208 West 41st Street (7th/8th Avs.) (212) 307-4100
Rent website:
Opened on Broadway: April 29, 1996
Closing 6/01/08 after a 12-year, 5,012-performance run.
Reviewed by Les Gutman October 12, 1999
The Original 1996 Cast: Gilles Chiasson (Steve, man with squeegee, a waiter, and others), Taye Diggs (Benjamin Coffin III), Wilson Jermaine Heredia (Angel Schunard), Rodney Hicks (Paul, a cop, and others), Kristen Lee Kelly (Mark's mom, Alison, and others), Jesse L. Martin (Tom Collins), Idina Menzel (Maureen Johnson), Aiko Nakasone (Alexi Darling, Roger's mom, and others), Timothy Britten Parker (Gordon, the man, Mr. Grey, and others), Adam Pascal (Roger Davis), Anthony Rapp (Mark Cohen), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Mimi Marquez) Gwen Stewart (Mrs. Jefferson, woman with bags, and others), Byron Utley Christmas caroler, Mr. Jefferson, a pastor and others, Fredi Walker (Joanne Jefferson). Swings: Yassmin Alers, Darius de Haas, Shelley Dickinson, David Driver, Mark Setlock, Simone.
Musical Numbers
Act One
  • Tune Up/"Voice Mail #1"
  • "Rent"
  • "You Okay Honey?"
  • "One Song Glory"
  • "Light My Candle"
  • "Voice Mail #2"
  • "Today 4 U"
  • "You'll See"
  • "Tango: Maureen"
  • "Life Support"
  • "Out Tonight"
  • "Another Day"
  • "Will I?"
  • "On the Street"
  • "Santa Fe"
  • "We're Okay"
  • "I'll Cover You"
  • "Christmas Bells"
  • "Over the Moon"
  • "La Vie Boheme"/"I Should Tell You"
Act Two
  • "Seasons Of Love"
  • "Happy New Year"/"Voice Mail #3"
  • "Take Me Or Leave Me"
  • "Without You"
  • "Voice Mail #4"
  • "Contact"
  • "I'll Cover You" (reprise)
  • "Halloween"
  • "Goodbye, Love"
  • "What You Own"
  • "Voice Mail # 5"
  • Finale/"Your Eyes"
metaphors dictionary cover
6,500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by
's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.

The Broadway Theatre Archive


©Copyright 2002, Elyse Sommer,
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from