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Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway
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No experience quite matches the thrill of a live Broadway spectacular seen up close and in person. Now, this stunning performance shot in High Definition puts you in the front row as the smash hit RENT brings down the curtain on its history-making, 12-year run! You've never had seats this great...never seen and heard each character so intimately...never shared every emotion in such a personal way! After winning four Tony Awards® and the Pulitzer Prize, Jonathan Larson's powerhouse musical tour de force entered the record books as the 7th-longest-running show in all Broadway history. In this unforgettable theatrical experience - made possible by special arrangement with the Broadway producers and Actors Equity Association - take an intimate journey through a single year in the lives of a small circle of friends and artists living their dreams, battling their demons and celebrating life on the streets of New York City's East Village. Meet would-be filmmaker Mark, sweet transvestite Angel
For passionate fans of Rent--the popular Broadway rock musical that updated La Boheme with electric guitars, steel drums, strippers, and drag queens--Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway is a must-have.Written and composed by Jonathan Larson (who died suddenly of an aortic aneurysm just before the show premiered), Rent follows an absurdly clean-cut gaggle of hipster artists who, after having been squatting in a run-down building for a year, are now being told they have to pay that rent by the building's owner, a former friend. At least, that's the plot point that launches everything; really, the musical is about modern romance, grappling with AIDS, and celebrating the creative spirit. This film documents the last performance of the Broadway production, which ran for 12 years. Though the aggressive camera moves and sometimes frenetic editing seem intended to make the film feel less stagebound, this Rent first and foremost captures the stage experience. The production's raw set and self-conscious theatricality (which highfalutin' theater folk might call "Brechtian") creates genuine show-biz razzle-dazzle and helps distract from some of the cliches in the musical itself. There are no famous faces (the closest is Tracie Thoms, who played the same role, the lesbian lover of a performance artist, in the movie version), but the cast is solid and exuberant, throwing themselves wholeheartedly into the show's unapologetically sincere paeans to life and love. --Bret Fetzer
Stills from Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway (Click for larger image)
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The guy who plays Mark brings so much of the young vibrancy the role of narrator needs. The pathos he displays in his soliloquy "Halloween" when he worries that he'll be alone is also very good.
Roger is strongly moody, always ready for a fight, which I think blends well with his lyrics. Say what you will about other guys who've played Roger, an insipid softly loving guy is just not what the character is about. He's a rockin' dude looking death in the face, and he's upset and angry about it. His version of "One Song Glory" is the best I've heard, even better than the original.
Mimi is energetic, yet can also be quiet. Her "Without You" brings me to tears every time. She's also willing to fight, which makes for interesting chemistry between her and Roger.
Angel does a lovely falsetto, and his part in "Contact" shows off his strong regular singing voice as well. He does a very good job of keeping the character loving and tender, yet fun. How he manages to look so very sick in "Without You" is beyond me, but he does a great job of it.
Collins is so full of passion when he performs the "I'll Cover You" reprise. The rest of his performance is fairly ordinary. He's got a good voice, but he's not as loud and flashy as the other characters. This fits in with his persona as philosopher, but makes him fade a bit into the background. Even his part in "La Vie Boheme" is quieter than everyone else.
Joanne does a great job. The character is a strong, successful type, and she does it well. Maureen also does well, although her character is my least favorite. (The role itself irritates me, not the performer.) Their duet, "Take Me or Leave Me" shows off the skills of both at belting out songs. Benny is just as smarmy as the character should be.
The reprise at the end with the original Broadway cast adding to the final Broadway cast was just lovely, and you could see how they all felt about it ending. The extra "Last Days on Broadway" feature of the DVD was an interesting look at the behind-the-scenes of the filming, as well as the feelings of the cast and crew.
In short, I'm very happy I bought this, and heaven forbid something happens to the DVD, I'd buy it again.
Many people would say that it is not as great as the movie or that the singers are not up to par with the original cast, but for anyone who has seen the show on Broadway knows that the movie, while stays true to the show, leaves some funny and emotional parts out, like the songs "Contact" and the second part, the best part in my opinion, of "Goodbye Love" and quite a few more. I personal like the Broadway version better, if you prefer the movie, this DVD is not for you. And just as a side note to people who think that the cast was terrible all I have to say is that it is obvious that they work hard and are talented or else they wouldn't be a part of the show and if you think you can do better then you go try out. That is the only negative thing I have to say in this review, because this DVD is perfect. I no longer have to watch bad quality bootlegs just to "get my sickness on"
The DVD offers a High Definition showing of the final performance, which as a RENT lover, makes me choke up just a little. Anyone who loves the Broadway show should get this DVD, it is a part of our culture and we should be able to share it with people who were not fortunate enough to see it when it was on stage.
Now to review Amazon, I got the movie the exact day they said I would and I was able to track it the whole way. I will definitely continue to use Amazon. All in all FIVE stars!
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