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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC! Rent-heads or anyone passionate about this musical will no doubt be captured by the Blu-ray edition!
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...
Published on January 24, 2009 by Dennis A. Amith

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story, not a knockout performance
Don't get me wrong, I love Rent and live performances, but this was merely "eh" in the grand scheme. No orignal cast, thus the powerful punch is lacking. Great for experience sake, but rent the movie, don't buy. (Pun intended)
Published 22 months ago by Russianflatfish


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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC! Rent-heads or anyone passionate about this musical will no doubt be captured by the Blu-ray edition!, 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!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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!
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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great concept, beautifully done, December 19, 2008
I saw both the show on stage and the highly stylized film version and having now experienced this performance, filmed live on Broadway at the end of the show's run, I now truly realize just how short the film version comes to really capturing the essence of what Jonathan Larson created. This high octane, musically innovative and striking show is also a beautiful and heartfelt exploration of youth, both lost and reclaimed; a very poignant portrait of the search for love and compassion, of hope and beauty in a world that everyday recedes deeper into the empty comforts of materialism and social acceptability. An updated version of Puccini's masterpiece La Boheme, Rent is obviously not as shy about not only examining the wounds of its characters but of exhibiting them; its blatant honesty and unapologetic credo of life are a million miles away from the subtle, innocent and elegant sentiments of late 19th century Parisian artists, starving in their garrets while courting muses. Rent is the "black sheep" of the Boheme lineage. It's a piece of theatre that bristles with tenacity in the face of hardship and rejection: No one here is willing to take anything lying down. It's really little wonder it was as critically acclaimed as it was and won the many prestigious awards that it did and reason for that is that it manages to be what few musicals have ever managed to be: Authentic, relevant but, ultimately, profoundly human; a rebellious celebration of life even in the face of addiction, illness and death . Add to that mixture some really first rate music, stellar performances and stage direction (an ingenious arc that fluidly shifts its characters around Manhattan yet all within the confines of a stage that's, for the most part, barren) and you've got one heck of a winning recipe. Rent is the musical for people who think they don't like musicals. It's as far removed from traditional American musical theatre as it possibly can be. It is the heir apparent to the socially relevant, politically conscience and in your face musical experience that was ushered in 40 years ago by the groundbreaking rock musical "Hair." But, of course, the most tragic element about Rent was the premature death of its creator, Jonathan Larson, who, sadly and ironically, died the day before opening night, a few days shy of his 36th birthday. But what a legacy he left us all.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rentheads and the rest: You won't regret buying this DVD., February 7, 2009
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I was pleasantly surprised with "Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway". I thought I'd be bored with seeing a stage production on film, I was wrong. The project was in good hands, close-ups in the right places etc.

I have been a "Renthead" since the show opened in '96. I had a chance to hear the original cast on Broadway (I couldn't get in to see the show, but the guy in the lobby let me hang out there and listen to several songs - what a guy) and see Wilson Cruz and Neil Patrick Harris in L.A.

"Rent" was the first time that I heard a love song between two guys in a musical and a semi-sorta love song between two women too. I was blown away. Everything about the musical helped me through some rough times when I was coming out and dealing with people around me dying from AIDS. Jonathan Larson was truly inspired.

With all that being said, it's sad to see the show close on Broadway. But this DVD is a great keepsake to have. The show is complete. Unlike the movie where certain aspects were dropped, this version shows it all. "Christmas Bells" is in it and thank goodness it is.

The cast is phenomenal. Sure it's impossible to replicate what the original cast did, but the show lives on through this cast of fresh faces. Particular stand outs (in my opinion) are Will Chase as Roger and Adam Kantor as Mark.

If you're already a fan or new to the Life Cafe, this DVD is worth buying. There are some pretty awesome extras as well. And seeing most of the original cast at the end is a treat.

No day but today!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great concept, SPECTACULAR results, June 24, 2009
This sort of thing makes me wish they would give all shows this treatment. I was SO impressed with the cast and quality of filming done on this DVD. Watching this makes one understand why a show written for the stage is best left on the stage; Hollywood movies, no matter how they are "altered" to better the story or whatever, cannot compare to the emotion, adrenaline and feel of the stage performance. If you are a Rent fan at all, I recommend you add this to your DVD collection because it shares with those of us not fortunate enough to see the show on B-way the true message and power of the show.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blown Away, June 8, 2009
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Ronald H. Hoffman (Denver, CO United States) - See all my reviews
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Have always loved "Rent," but I was skeptical if I would watch it again on a DVD having seen it many times.

I WAS BLOWN AWAY. What an incredible performance by the entire cast. I found myself understanding some nuances I had missed, and a teared up about every 5 minutes.

I found the close-ups and the camera work on this DVD to be stunning. Enough long shots to remind you you are watching a stage production, but enough close-ups to really add to the total emotion of this musical.

WOW!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rent-a compelling reason to love Broadway!, February 23, 2009
"Rent: live on Broadway" is a killer production. Jonathan Larson has created an upscale La Boheme that resonates with passion and diversity.
Never having seen Rent live, I was impressed with the whole presentation.

The music was vivid and raw, while the themes that resonated were ones we see everyday. The issues of homelessness, 'art' vs sell out, and real estate/business vs the little guy are vaild everywhere. While the drug/sexual culuture pervades the storyline, the success of the characters as they live one year on talent and the grace of a benevolent landlord is obvious.

The special features are a good fit for the DVD, and turn this into a must own DVD for musical fans.

This comes highly recomended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More musicals should do this, March 30, 2009
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D. West (Dallas, TX United States) - See all my reviews
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There were a couple of instances in this film where I wished they would have zoomed out a bit for a wider shot...but that's small potatoes.

This was great. There's a special place in my heart for the original cast (they join in for the final Seasons Of Love), but I thought this cast pulled it off well. Justin Johnston did a great job as Angel (probably my second favorite next to WJH's), and I love the part during I'll Cover You where he says, "My Wig! Hold on!"

I'm also glad to see Tracie Thoms finally make it to the stage production.

Overall, this video was wonderful. A must have if you've never seen RENT live, and a great keepsake if you have! More Broadway shows should do this for the people who can't afford to pay $100/ticket and/or live in an area that just doesn't have the venue for live shows.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Broadway "Rent", July 17, 2009
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"Rent" is a fantastic show, however, we were disappointed that this one did not star two of the original cast: Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp. The filming would have been better without closeups and seen more as an audience member would have viewed it. It is still a great show to see and the music is incredible. We really enjoyed the bonus features!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fitting Tribute to a Modern Musical Masterpiece, March 29, 2009
By 
dramadude 186 (Grayson, Georgia United States) - See all my reviews
Well, it had to happen eventually. After 12 years on Broadway, "Rent" has finally closed its doors. As far as musicals go, it is certainly one of the best documented, with numerous books, news articles, and websites devoted to its creation.

There are many theories about why the show became and remains so popular, but my two cents is that it was simply the right story told in the right way at the right time. In the mid-nineties, an entire generation of theatre fans was looking for a musical that spoke to them, about issues unique to their generation (in the same way "Hair" embodies the hippie counter-culture for children of the 60s). And along came Jonathan Larson, who cleverly recast Puccini's timeless opera "La Boheme" as a rock-musical about artists, rockers, gays, and lesbians struggling with issues like drugs and AIDS in New York City. It was a story that spoke to people, particularly young people, yet dealt with such universal issues like love and acceptance that fans of any age could relate.

It even managed to get a film adaptation in 2005, but many fans (myself included) felt that despite the inclusion of most of the original cast, Hollywood did not do justice to the stage version. For all of those fans, and those who have yet to experience "Rent," this DVD is the answer. This is the show we all fell in love with, performed to near perfection by an energetic young cast and filmed live during its final days on Broadway.

Like any good Rent-head, I have seen the show multiple times, and this is honestly the best cast I have ever seen. They convey the energy and emotion so vital to the show's success, making it feel fresh and new again. You'd never know the show had been running for 12 straight years, because this cast attacks the material with such sincerity and heart. Not only do they sound incredible, but this cast is also the strongest group of actors I have seen in these roles. My biggest complaint about "Rent" is that I never felt it was acted to its full potential. Until now. I know the show backwards and forwards, and yet they brought out all kinds of nuances and connections I had previously missed. The cast's commitment and honesty make songs like "La Vie Boheme" and the title tune truly celebratory, and "Without You" and "I'll Cover You (Reprise)" all the more heartwrenching. And watching Angel run onstage to join the final tableau will always make me misty-eyed (and I rarely get that emotional).

Standouts include: Will Chase as Roger, giving a near difinitive interpretation of the role (sorry, Adam Pascal fans); Renee Goldsberry as his love interest, the drug-addicted Mimi; Eden Espinosa as defiant protest artist Maureen; and Tracie Thoms, reprising her role of Joanne from the 2005 film and proving she definitely has the vocal and acting chops to perform this show 8 times a week.

Any fan of "Rent" needs this DVD. It preserves the show in its entirity (no cutting "Christmas Bells" for time!), with the staging and inherent theatricality that really makes the show sing. It is *almost* as good as seeing the show live. Now you can relive this show, a true landmark in musical theatre history, whenever you want. Which is easily worth $20 they're asking for this disc.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic captured., February 8, 2009
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M J Heilbron Jr. "Dr. Mo" (Long Beach, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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One of the most emotional and stirring Broadway experiences ever has been captured on film, and this is as good as it could possibly get.

It is said that nothing recreates the sheer visceral thrill of a Broadway show...or I should say, a GOOD Broadway show. That particular alchemy of of live performance, plot/story, music and an audience is essentially un-reproducible in any other media.

But MAN is this close!

I started by referring to "Rent" as a Broadway "experience" more than a show. That's because the show is better the more you know about it.

Beginning with the initial idea, the transposition of Puccini's "La Boheme", modernized to late 90's New York...is it too early to refer to that time period as "turn of the century?"...it was a musical that was strikingly contemporary and exceedingly specific. Since it was masterfully done, it has also proved to be timeless and universal. They don't hand out Pulitzers for nothing.

Knowing that the show's creator, Jonathan Larson, died of an undiagnosed thoracic aortic aneurysm the night before opening night previews, adds immeasurable subtext to a show about, among other things, living each day as if it were the last.

Knowing the special relationship between the show, its' production crew, its' fans and the city of New York heightens the drama and intensity of the show itself, and here, the final performance.

In other words, the story of "Rent" is as enthralling as the show itself. The documentary on the DVD of the FILM version of "Rent" does a terrific job of telling THAT story.
And speaking about that film version...(which is never referred to during any of the several excellent behind-the-scenes segments here)...many die-hard Rent-heads have been quite vocal about their disdain for the film; critics were not that impressed either. Personally, I feel they did about as good a job as could have been done, without simply filming the show itself. Plus I got to see most of the original cast members, something I'd never otherwise get a chance to see.

Like I said, nothing reproduces that sense of urgency and drama like live theater.

THIS is that "filmed show." They literally filmed a Broadway performance. What seemed a bit dull in the movie bursts with color and vibrancy here.

They cheat a bit; sometimes the cameras are right over the shoulders or in the faces of the cast members. That clearly didn't happen closing night. This is seamlessly edited together with previous performances using cameras on stage in the midst of the action. It is so well done that the close-ups add to the intensity. Seeing a cast member with a tear rolling down their cheek...something you couldn't see past the fourth row...just nails certain points in the show with that "real" drama you don't get from "film". It pulls you close.

Hearing the roar of the crowd, either to applaud each performance or in some cases, to applaud in anticipation of an upcoming appearance (which is, I have to say, really cool to hear...) adds to the immediacy of your viewing experience. Seeing little imperfections, a little stumble, a vocal wobble, does the same thing. (For all I know, they were intentional...how the heck do I know...) The feeling of "you are there" has never been done as well as it has been done here.

The show has become so personal to so many people, with so many fans seeing the original cast, the various Broadway iterations, the touring companies, the film, and now this, that they'll have their own favorite Mimi or Roger or Angel. This particular cast, I have to say, is pretty fine, top to bottom. Hardcore Rent-heads will find little to quibble about, and newbies won't be missing a thing. Yes, you might miss having Mimi a bit less polished (I always envisioned her character as a little "sloppy" or rough; here she sings perfectly)...and in my "Rent" world, Angel is usually more diminutive...more petite.

Did this affect my watching this Blu-Ray? Not even remotely.

In fact, I felt the same way I did when I saw the show for the first time, here in L.A. Then, I was so unexpectedly overwhelmed by the show, I was moved, as they say, to tears. Not the little, single drop that spills over your right eyelid either. Big messy sobs. From a 40-year-old heterosexual male. In public. Way embarrassing.

Here, "Rent" got to me again. This time, knowing all that I know about the show, that sense of love and loss was just that much more profound. The tears came back, a bit more reserved this time, but continued throughout the compelling "making-of" segments.

Technically, the disc is awesome. Awe-invoking. Awe-inspiring. Whatever. Awe. With the pristine vocals from and center, music presented on a huge soundstage and the raucous crowd swirling in your surrounds...I'm telling you, I was right there.

Even the intermission...ten minutes long...is presented in its' entirety. Seriously. A camera sits stationary, maybe center front balcony, while a clock ticks down on screen. You see production crew moving things around, the tops of the heads of the people in the first rows milling about...it's kinda funny actually. At one point, a stage hand walks across the stage and waves to the camera.

The video reproduction is impeccable. Only in the scenes where the lighting is necessarily super-low do you get any sort of image degradation...it's trivial. Otherwise, this looks so real. It's HD at it's finest. Again, "you are there." Only better.

If you've read this far, there are a few things for you that I haven't written about, that you need to find out about on your own.
1) You will go nuts during the encore...they do another song, with some friends showing up.
2) You need to see each and every featurette. Stuff they show and talk about in the first ones comes back in the later ones. Things you think you know, you don't. You'll be moved beyond belief.
3) If you've seen a lot of "Rent" shows, you will see old cast members in the audience, during the various featurettes. Check them out for that reason alone.

This is not a rental...you need to own "Rent." Go. Click. Now.
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