Top positive review
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FANTASTIC! Rent-heads or anyone passionate about this musical will no doubt be captured by the Blu-ray edition!
on January 24, 2009
When you watch a live performance of a concert or musical and if that Blu-ray goes as far as it can to replicate that live experience, you know you're going to have a enjoyable time. "RENT: Filmed LIVE on Broadway" is a fantastic experience on Blu-ray from awesome picture quality, great sound utilization for those with a home theater and a disc loaded with featurettes with substance. A solid and fantastic release for those who are passionate for the seventh longest running musical ever.
"RENT" had been in development since 1988 and made a reality in 1994. But the musical wouldn't become a success until its Broadway debut in Jan. 1996. "RENT" is a reimagining of Giacomo Puccini's opera "La Boheme" and its modern setting and enjoyable characters and addictive music has captured so many hearts with its twelve year run. It has won a Pulitzer Prize, four Tony Awards and credit has to go to the hardworking and passionate staff and its cast members who have put their heart and soul to "RENT", but this release is also a celebration of life and love, written by "RENT" creator Jonathan Larson.
From the actors getting on stage and everyone applauding to the ten minute intermission and then the final farewell in which the current cast and the original cast share the same stage and all sing "Seasons of Love", the final live performance was powerful and as for the Blu-ray, the additions of the bonus features will definitely attract the hardcore and even curious fans!
VIDEO & AUDIO:
The film is presented in 1080p high definition (1:78:1). The picture quality was amazing on Blu-ray. Picture quality was clear, colors were vibrant but most importantly, almost similar to any successful concert performance, what can make it or break a performance is how many camera angles are utilized, how they are edited and how well they cut from character to character. And the good news is that this musical was successful in accomplishing the job. Lighting was just right! Performances were fantastic and the ability to cover each performer interacting on stage knowing that a camera is probably in their way, everything went quite well. So, with the Blu-ray video transfer receiving high marks, how does the audio even compare?
As for the audio, audio is featured in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. And I have to let you know that if you own a home theater system with surround sound, how awesome the sound quality is. In fact, for those who want that theatre experience like if you were watching it live. The audio clearly features the dialogue and music from your front speakers. But your rear surround speakers feature the audience. I was blown away to hear the audience giggling, cheering and their overall excitement during the performance. Although it doesn't beat being there for an actual live show, at least there was great care in making sure the audio was great. So, it's like being in the front row and hearing the audience behind you. Well done!
This is probably what is going to win the RENT-heads and those who admire or are curious about "RENT" will truly enjoy. Lengthy special features targeted towards the fans of "RENT" and are featured in standard and hi-definition. The majority of them are in HD. Included are:
* The Wall - This featurette focuses on how the fans have left hand written messages on the walls of Nederlander Theatre. A good size featurette showcasing the various signatures written throughout the years and the goodbye messages from fans of the musical. Very touching!
* The Final Curtain -This featurette focuses on the original cast who were backstage and preparing to join the current cast for the final farewell and all of them united in their final goodbyes and singing "Seasons of Love" together. Very touching and emotional to watch.
* Home - This featurette was about how they chose the Nederland Theatre and how it was not quite hospitable and needed a lot of fixing up. But even today, the interesting things about the theatre that the cast and crew share their experiences. Answering questions of why the ceilings were not fully painted, the obstacles the crew had to face in getting it ready and much more. An informative but also fun featurette.
* The Final Lottery - Since moving to Nederland Theatre, there has been a lottery to RENT-heads who would camp outside in order to get the discounted $20 tickets for the show. Those who got tickets got to sit in the front two rows. This segment features the final lottery, hundreds of people in line hoping to get a ticket for the final day and how emotional the experience was for the fans who won tickets for the final day and also how emotional it was for the two men in charge of giving out the tickets for the lottery.
* Casting - A behind-the-scenes look at the casting for "RENT". Every person who auditioned have been kept in dozens upon dozens of binders. Each person who was cast had to be seen multiple times and you get quite a bit of insight on the casting and the experience of the current talent and how many times (and how many years) they auditioned to get a role in the musical.
* Rent: The Final Days on Broadway - This is the lengthiest featurette featuring a specialized casting for the final week of "RENT" bringing back some old cast members but finding the right cast for the final week and the final day. Bringing everyone together and an in-depth look at how emotional everyone was during the filming. A lot of interviews with cast and crew. Especially those remembering "RENT" creator Jonathan Larson and bringing back the Larson family one last time for them to meet and greet the crew, staff and talent. Touching and overall an awesome featurette! But to see how emotional distraught some of the hardcore fans were on the final day was incredibly touching. So many people touched by this musical and also the lives changed for the positive because of "RENT" was amazing.
* Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation PSA - This featurette is about the foundation for those in the performing arts who can win a grant (to be used for anything, groceries, rent, babysitting, etc.) to help out performing artists.
* National Marfan Foundation PSA - "RENT" creator Jonathan Larson died from an aortic aneurysm believed to have resulted from Marfan syndrome. And this informative PSA was letting people know about the genetic disorder and the National Marfan Foundation.
I was first introduced to "RENT" back in 2000. As most musicals, my first introduction is typically by the soundtracks first but I have dreamed of watching "RENT" in Broadway for many years and I ultimately thought that it was a musical I can just catch whenever and expected a long musical run. So, when I found out that the long running musical would no longer be live in Broadway as of Sept. 7, 2008, I was saddened and felt that I lost my opportunity.
But after watching "RENT: Filmed LIVE on Broadway", words can not describe how happy I was to hear about a Blu-ray release and how the live performance would be in High Definition.
The Blu-ray release was absolutely fantastic! This is probably the next best thing of catching a Broadway show without having been there because not only was the picture quality outstanding but the way the audio was created, the awesome energy from the audience is felt through your surround sound. The music just comes alive and everything was just done right when it comes to the video and audio presentation to DVD and Blu-ray translation from the final Broadway performance. Camera angle cuts, editing, lighting, audience participation and more. And if you thought the awesome performance of the musical was all your getting, "RENT" fans will not be disappointed because you get a good number of lengthy featurettes included on the special features section.
Although the Broadway performance of "RENT" is over, the long running musical is captured perfectly in "RENT: Filmed LIVE on Broadway" and is absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray! I wouldn't be surprise if this video became a cult-hit among the fans of the musical for many years to come. This release is not just a live performance, it's a celebration of life and a celebration of love.
If you are a fan of "RENT" or like myself, have always dreamed of watching "RENT" live, "RENT: Filmed LIVE on Broadway" is not only fantastic, it's highly recommended!