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Saturday, September 06, 2008

 

Live Rent-Free!


Let me start by saying that I have never seen Rent. I have never had the tiniest little fucking bit of desire to see it. I entertained a microsecond of consideration of seeing the movie, until I realized that the actors playing struggling artists in their twenties were now in their mid-thirties. The bits of it that I have seen on cable or as the cast sings "Seasons of Love" while riding a giant turkey in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade have assured me that, were I to see it, I would have to tie my arms to the theater seat to keep me from strangling myself.

I know a number of people who have great fondness for the show, and I respect that opinion, even if it's something I have to overlook to maintain respect for them.

So I was a little shocked and a little appalled upon finding myself feeling really sad when I heard this report on WNYC about how Rent is closing after 12 years. Why, I wondered, would I find anything the least bit moving about the expiration of a musical for which I've never felt any emotion rising above the level of contempt?

I mean, I'm cynical enough that any overly earnest musical theater worship makes me a bit cringe-y. Yes, I was raised performing in musicals at local community theaters and I know how fun they can be and I have an appreciation for their place in American theatrical history and I'm even capable of enjoying them on occasion. But the kind of reverence I see in the eyes of a twelve-year-old girl as she warbles her way through "Defying Gravity" always triggers my gag reflex.

Why, then, would I care the tiniest jot that the cast of Lil' Abner from the East Des Moines High School Drama Club will no longer be able to travel to New York to sit in rapture as their heroes portray early-90's clich├ęs?

I sat down to think about it--because nothing fascinates me quite as much as crawling up my own ass to learn how I tick--and I came to the conclusion that it's simply one more thing that makes me aware of the passage of time. I went to college with a guy who was in the original workshop of the show. I was new to Seattle when the thing opened on Broadway.

More than that, Rent was the first musical that was squarely aimed at Generation X. Like Friends, Rent is--like it or not--kind of a touchstone for people my age. And that age is increasing all the goddamn time. So the fact that the show has been around that long and is now closing is yet another road sign on my trip to senior citizenship.

Of course, they'll probably do a revival in about a year and a half.

 

 
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