Rent – Original Broadway Cast Recording

The MARK’S VINTAGE VINYL page features something from Mark’s collection of recordings from over the years. Most of it is on vinyl – hence the name – though there will be a few entries from his CDs (remember those?).

Rent, Original Broadway Cast Recording

  • Soundtrack from the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning musical, with music and lyrics by Jonathon Larson, released in 1996.
  • The rock musical is based on Puccini’s opera La bohème, set in modern times in the starving artist world of New York City’s East Village. The characters parallel those in Puccini’s opera – both the opera and Rent are about the lives of poor young artists, but those in Rent address modern issues like HIV, drug addiction and homelessness.
  • The original concepts of the show were developed in 1988. Larson got involved in 1989, and over 8 years, wrote hundreds of songs and many significant rewrites to the show. By 1993, the first staged readings were conducted, and there were many more refinements. On January 24, 1996, Rent had its final dress rehearsal before its off-Broadway opening. Famously, Larson died in the early morning the next day of an aortic dissection – he was 35 years old.
  • The show was performed the evening of Larson’s death, as planned, and over several months, all performances in the small theater sold out. It moved to Broadway on April 29, 1996 and ran for 12 years – 5,123 performances. It is the eleventh-longest running Broadway show. It won 4 Tony awards, including Best Musical, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1996 (only 9 musicals have won this award – the most recent is Hamilton).
  • I saw a performance of Rent during one of the show’s national tours in the mid 00’s, and quickly bought the soundtrack. Of the 35 or so musicals that I’ve seen over the years, it’s in my top 5.
  • The signature song from the soundtrack is Seasons of Love. It opens the second act in the stage show, and the soundtrack includes a bonus performance of the song by Stevie Wonder. In 2005, a film version of the musical was made, and the song is used as the opening scene of the movie. Here’s the song as presented at the start of the film.

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