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Sidebar -- Victim Kitsch, September 1996

Rent: Broadway Renaissance
or Wishful Thinking?

"[Rent] is the most exuberant and original American musical to come along this decade."

-- Richard Zogelin, "Lower East Side Story" (Time, March 4, 1996)

Rent Cast

"Will Rent revitalize Broadway by persuading young adults who have grown up with rock-and-roll that music theater has something to offer them? I doubt it."

-- Francis Davis, "Victim Kitsch" (The Atlantic Monthly, September 1996)

From the Rent soundtrack:
Listen to the excerpts below (in RealAudio).

  • "One Song Glory"
    RA 28.8
  • "Rent"
    RA 28.8
  • "La Vie Bohème"
    RA 28.8
  • "Will I?"
    RA 28.8

    The above excerpts are from Rent: The Original Broadway Cast Recording. Copyright 1996 by SKG Music L.L.C. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

  • Clips from the critics

    "Mr. Larson has proved that rock-era song styles can be integrated into a character-driven story for the stage with wildly affecting success. (Only the Broadway version of the Who's 'Tommy' has supported that premise in recent years, and its characters were more icons than real people.)"

    -- Ben Brantley, Rent, The New York Times, February 14, 1996.

    * * *

    "AIDS is the shadow hovering over all the people in Rent, but the musical doesn't dwell on illness or turn preachy; it is too busy celebrating life and chronicling its characters' efforts to squeeze out every last drop of it."

    -- Richard Zogelin, "Lower East Side Story," Time, March 4, 1996.

    * * *

    "Lena Horne, who had the last big hit at the Nederlander [the theater where Rent is playing in NYC], recalls a different population on 41st Street. 'We used to have ladies of the evening,' she said. 'I'd see them when I came out of the theater at night. They'd ask me how business had been and I'd say: 'Great. How's yours?'"

    -- David W. Dunlap, "41st Street Edges Into Times Square," The New York Times, August 25, 1996.

    * * *

    "Rent is a problematic show to record. Some of its songs meander with the plot, although in live performances the cast is able to make most of them work by means of raw energy, youthful good looks and old-fashioned showmanship. There are plenty that hold up well on record, however, such as 'One Song Glory,' a brave, bold blast that compares with some of the best tunes on Jesus Christ Superstar, the pioneering 1971 rock opera."

    -- Christopher John Farley, "Lullabies of Broadway," Time, August 26, 1996.
    Return to "Victim Kitsch"

    Copyright © 1996 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
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