Monday, July 2, 2012


By Official RENT Blog contributor Rori Nogee

RENT asked Rori: As an artist and performer, what does "La Vie Bohème" mean to you? If you could rewrite the lyrics to the show, what ideas and/or people would you add to the song "La Vie Bohème" as your lists of inspiration for yourself and why?

The Bohemia depicted in RENT no longer exists. It is a time capsule of the days when the East Village was teeming with starving artists from all walks of life. Today, the East Village is filled with hipster trust fund babies, celebrities, and evicted artists who are probably wandering around homeless. However, that doesn’t mean that “Bohemia is dead.” The true Bohemians have since migrated to Washington Heights, Brooklyn and Astoria…at least until those areas become gentrified as well, in which case we artists will be forced to move upstate, or worse… Jersey.

I grew up in a middle-class Long Island two-income family with a hot tub in the basement and a swimming pool built into the deck. “What does SHE know about bohemian living,” you might ask? Well, when I moved out, my decision to pursue the arts was not exactly celebrated by my parents. I had to prove that I could support myself, or admit failure. (Mom just loves to say, “I told you so.”) Thus, I have been no stranger to La Vie Bohème for the past few years, doing the starving artist thing. I work multiple jobs just to make ends meet. I spend my days waitressing, auditioning, rehearsing, performing in children’s theater and murder mystery companies, dressing up as mascots at corporate events, and doing any other (legal) activities I can find in order to make a buck. This means that while I can pay my bills, there is no room for luxury items that other people might consider to be necessities: Manicures, pedicures, designer clothing, gym memberships, etc. There is also not much time for a social life in betwixt all of the working.

The characters in RENT shared my familiar bare bones Bohemian lifestyle, but they lived it in a different time. A lot has changed in the world since the early 90’s. While they had AIDS scares, we have terrorist scares. While they refused to sell out, we can’t even get a survival job in this economy. While they had the first giant cellular phones, we live in the information age; a world where people are simultaneously more connected to and disconnected from each other than ever before. Facebook is ironically replacing face to face human interaction and reality television is replacing jobs for actual trained actors.

The original lyrics of “La Vie Bohème” perfectly encapsulate the end of the millennium. If I were to incorporate my personal experiences and updated ideas for lyrics into a “La Vie Bohème” for the new millennium, it would go something like this: (Keep in mind that I did not attempt to rewrite the song lyric for lyric or syllable for syllable. I am merely throwing out some ideas in a freestyle kind of way. Hey, even Jonathan Larson had to start somewhere…).

To credit card maxing, heavy taxing, late fee owing, parked car towing

Catering, waitressing, knock off bags, Backstage mags

Terrorist threats, code red, bugs in your bed

Blown fuses, cheap boozes, socks with holes, worn out soles,

Outgrown roots, busted boots, to no HBO, to saving up for Mac Book Pros

Friends with kids at 9 to 5’s, you make enough to stay alive

Netflix, double shifts, no social life, dating sites, tweeting, fast food eating

Befriending, defriending, youtube stars, not lying about where you are

To no AC, dirty laundry, to me, to me, to me, me and ME!

To Adele overplayed, overstayed, winning every Grammy

Overstimulation, over-prescription, overpopulation, standing ovations

Overdose, Heath comatose, addiction, living with conviction

To reality TV and Glee, to auto-tuning, McPhee crooning,

Marathon work days, High Def Blue Ray, PBJ, American Idols invading Broadway!

To Cancer scares, bully dares, prop 8, no hate, gay suicides, innocence dies,Ground Zero's bravest heroes

Stagedoor meetings, kisses fleeting, Bernadette, singing Wicked duets

Apatow Flicks, Theater tix, Garage Band, parents lending you a hand

Marketa and Glen Hansard, questions about love get answered

Easy to be Hard, Equity cards, letting down your guard

Tick Tick Boom, The Cutting Room, Bottom Line, CBGB’s

3D movies, DRV, Angie Jolie, Marriage Equality



Living La Vie Bohème certainly comes with its hardships. Yet, I remind myself that I chose this lifestyle and I manage to stay inspired both in spite of and because of it. I plan on continuing to pursue my dreams and at least sometimes…getting paid to do it!


RENT fans, let's continue to create: What lyrics would you add to your version of "La Vie Bohème"? Share your lyrics in the comments below or on RENT's Facebook and Twitter.

Learn more about the current Off-Broadway production of RENT at

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


By Official RENT Blog contributor Tommy Collison

RENT asked Tommy: In your Q&A you mentioned that you connected most with Mark partly due to his work being important in his life. Mark's movie spotlights the homeless and persons struggling in the streets during the late '80s in NYC. If you were to make a movie or write a social commentary, what issues in Ireland would you talk about and why? How does your piece that you would write connect with Mark or the show in general?

In Ireland, there exists a traditional nomadic people, who are known as “Irish Travelers”, and who make up about 0.5% of the population (around 36,000 people). They are not homeless, per sé, rather they choose not to live in a settled fashion, living in caravans or the like. Their children often grow up outside the mainstream education system and a European Parliament Committee of Enquiry on Racism and Xenophobia found them to be one of the most discriminated-against social groups in Europe. Because some -- not all -- members of the traveling community engage in petty crime and anti-social behavior, there exists a totally unfair social stigma around these ‘travelers’, and they often find it difficult to secure employment. The discrimination that travelers face is not all that different from the discrimination that African-Americans faced during the first half of the 20th century in how it appeared in everyday life.

If I were to make a social commentary, I would absolutely choose the widespread ostracism that travelers face. I think it’s a very pressing issue, in that human rights are being denied to these people each and every day. In making the documentary, I’d probably do a mix of video and text. I would use the visual element of the piece to cast light on the discrimination that travelers face, and to document it. I think it’s important to highlight the discrimination that travelers are subjected to, and try and remove the negative stereotypes that many “settled” Irish people have towards this minority. With regard to text, a rhetoric with a power akin to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech would surely incite a push for equality, and pressure the government into ending the ostracism faced by members of the traveling community.

I think that the piece that I would do would connect me with Mark in that he was trying to document the hardships that homeless people in New York faced. In the same way, the aims of my documentary would also document the hardships faced by travelers in Ireland. I think Mark and I share a strong sense of justice; both of us are deeply moved by people struggling on the fringes of society. As for connecting to the show itself, I believe its underlying message is one of accepting people of all types, and my documentary would attempt to unify the Irish people, both settled and unsettled.


RENT fans, let's continue the conversation: What social issues do you want to document? Tell us about what you are doing or plan to do to create change in the world. Share your stories in the comments below or on RENT's Facebook and Twitter.

Learn more about the current Off-Broadway production of RENT at

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Tickets to RENT at New World Stages are only $40* for all seats now through July 8, 2012 if you purchase by July 1, 2012! Buy now and save 55%.

The cast of RENT. Photo by Joan Marcus.

1.  ONLINE:  Simply click here or visit and enter code RNEVITE312

2.  BY PHONE:  Call 212-947-8844 and mention code RNEVITE312.

3. IN PERSON: Bring a print-out of this page to the New World Stages Box Office, 340 W. 50th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, in New York City. Click here for box office hours.


Visit RENT's Facebook and Twitter for the chance to win a pair of tickets to RENT at New World Stages.  Limit one entry per person on Facebook.  Limit on entry per person on Twitter.  No purchase necessary to enter or win the sweepstakes.  Must enter by 11:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time on July 1, 2012. 

*Terms & conditions: Offer valid for select performances through July 8, 2012. Must purchase by July 1, 2012. Not valid for Saturday evening performances.  Other blackout dates may apply. Regular prices $69.50 - $89.50. All prices include a $1.50 facility fee. Schedule and cast subject to change. Offer subject to availability. Normal service charges apply to online and phone orders. No exchanges or refunds. All sales are final. Cannot be combined with other offers. Not valid for prior purchases. Limit of 10 tickets per order. Offer expires July 1, 2012 but may be revoked or changed at any time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


By Official RENT Blog contributor Brandon Nichols

RENT asked Brandon: In your Q&A you mentioned that you have seen the movie versions of RENT over 40 times, you've also been in the production, and have seen the stage show. How has the show continued to speak to you after seeing it so many times? Also, with all the advances in Gay Rights and AIDS research, what makes RENT relevant today and not just a period piece?

Let me begin by saying, yes, I have seen the movie over 40 times. I watch it again and again because it never seems to get old. You’d think after so many times a story such as RENT may get boring because you know what to expect. However, for me, neither the storyline nor the music seem to grow old. The story of RENT is a story that most people in today’s society are far too afraid to speak about. The music speaks to every generation regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, etc. There’s something for everyone to relate to in RENT.

For me, RENT continues to speak to me because I see a lot of myself in some of the characters and what they do is what I do. Take Maureen for example, my favorite character. She is a performer, I’m a performer, one reason I relate. She is a “I’ll tell it like it is” kinda girl. I’m a “tell it like it is” kinda guy. You take every character and there’s always something about that character that you can see yourself in. Each characteristic of those characters becomes one person…being me or you. I think that’s why I can relate to the storyline so much. It’s who we are as artist and who we are as friends.

Most people would think of RENT as a period piece, when in reality, it’s anything but. RENT’s music changed the way Broadway saw music. It brought a new form of “beat” to the stage. I think the reason why it’s just as powerful now is because the world around us is changing and the music, since it itself was a massive turning point for the musical theatre world, continues to change with the times, but still remains the same. Does that make sense? The story will never grow old because it’s going to always be a problem and there will always be someone who knows someone suffering with AIDS. The music touches everyone, not just one group of people, hence why it doesn’t really come across as a period piece.

RENT has changed many lives over the years and it’s back to change many more. It’s here for its message to be seen and heard. RENT is love, friendship and peace.


RENT fans, let's continue the conversation: What makes RENT relevant to you? Which characters do you identify with and see in yourself?  Tell us about them in the comments below or on RENT's Facebook and Twitter.

Learn more about the current Off-Broadway production of RENT at

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Written by Official RENT Blog contributor Andrew Milne

Roughly 8,469,600 minutes ago, the world changed forever: RENT opened. One Pulitzer, multiple Tony Awards, and hundreds of sold-out shows later, many people still do not know the history of the show that glorifies life in the present. Like the show itself, I’m going to try my best here to “document real life” – the journey of RENT from conception to its Broadway birth on April 29th, 1996, and the life of the man who made it.

Art mirrors life, and Jonathan Larson’s magnum opus is no exception; Larson lived in downtown Manhattan, owned an illegal wood-burning stove, and was surrounded by artists and people with AIDS (the two were seldom mutually exclusive). The people and events of his life color the story and score of the show, down to throwing his keys to the street due to the broken buzzer of his apartment building (the same tiny apartment where Larson held the auditions for the showcase). Small details were not the only aspect of RENT from where Larson’s life peppered the show – “Will I?” and “Life Support” were both based on Friends In Deed meetings (an organization dealing with emotions relating to illness and dying) that Larson attended. His bohemian lifestyle generally provided the backdrop for RENT; Mark is based on Larson’s friend Eddie Rosenstein, and some characters were based on Friends In Deed acquaintances.

As Maria explains in The Sound of Music, (now I’m getting my musicals crossed) nothing comes of nothing, and RENT is no exception: it is heavily based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Boheme. The gilded salons and elegance of 19th century Paris are replaced with the grit and dirt of pre-millennium New York, but the stories are markedly similar – a group of artists seize life, choosing art over riches. Mimi the seamstress becomes Mimi the exotic dancer, Marcello the painter morphs into Mark the filmmaker, and tuberculosis becomes AIDS, but the overall themes are the same: life is for living, and loving.

Jonathan Larson died the day before RENT had its off-Broadway debut. Yet, like his masterpiece, the important thing is not that he died, but how he lived. He made something great, beautiful, and real. He inspired countless people with his story of not living in the past, not fretting over the future, but enjoying the present. He lived like a bohemian. He lived. So close to the sixteen year anniversary of his achievement, it’s important that we not just remember that he died like one of his characters, but celebrate that he lived like one: he lived – and loved – through his art.


Do you have friends that inspire you the way Jonathan's inspired him? Do you have your very own Mark, Roger, Maureen, Mimi, Joanne or Angel in your life? Tell us about them in the comments below or on RENT's Facebook and Twitter.

Learn more about the current Off-Broadway production of RENT at

Monday, April 30, 2012


Josh Grisetti as Mark.
Photo by Joan Marcus.
Calling all RENTheads who have a passion for journalism, documenting real life, or simply the need to express or communicate!

The search is on for an official RENThead Video Correspondent who has a vibrant on-camera personality and is ready and willing to conduct video interviews with members of the cast at New World Stages in New York City.

  • Create a 30-second video showing us your personality and telling us why you deserve to make your mark as an official RENThead Video Correspondent, and one example question of what you’d ask a cast member if you were to interview them in person at New World Stages. You must visually appear and speak in your video. Please do not edit your video in any manner.
  • Upload your video to and submit the URL to by the deadline of 11:59 PM Eastern on Friday June 1, 2012.
    • Be sure to name your YouTube video: RENT’s “MAKE YOUR MARK” Video Contest Entry
    • Remember – your video must be 30 seconds or less – no exceptions allowed!
    • In the body of your e-mail, please include your first and last name, age, current city and state of residence, e-mail address, and phone number.

  • One winner will be selected as the official RENThead Video Correspondent, who will get the chance to interview members of the Off-Broadway cast at New World Stages.
  • Winner will also receive a pair of tickets to see RENT at New World Stages.

Limit one entry per person. Must be a legal resident of the U.S. age 18 or older. Winner is solely responsible for transportation and lodging. Winner must be able to travel to New York between August 1, 2012 and August 15, 2012. Video editing experience is not required for this contest.

Click here to read the official rules and regulations.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


The Company of RENT. Photo by Joan Marcus.
RENT fans, three Wednesday matinee performances have been added to the month of May!  The lottery for these matinees will begin at 12 PM with names drawn at 12:30 PM at New World Stages in New York City.

Please note the following changes to RENT's performance schedule for May 2012:
  • Added performance Wednesday, May 2 at 2 PM
  • No performance Sunday, May 6 at 7:30 PM
  • Added performance Wednesday, May 9 at 2 PM
  • No performance Sunday, May 13 at 7:30 PM
  • Added performance Wednesday, May 16 at 2 PM
  • No performance Sunday, May 20 at 7:30 PM
Beginning the week of May 21, RENT will resume its regular performance schedule, which is as follows:
  • Monday at 8 PM
  • Wednesday – Friday at 8 PM
  • Saturday at 2 PM & 8 PM
  • Sunday at 2 PM & 7:30 PM
Lottery Details
RENT sells 16 seats via a lottery for each performance at New World Stages (340 West 50th Street). The tickets are $25, cash only. All tickets include a $1.50 facility fee.

Names are collected in front of the Box Office (outside on 50th Street) from the beginning of the lottery until drawing time. Limit one (1) entry per person, each person may win up to two (2) tickets. Must be present at the time of the drawing to win. Must present valid photo ID to purchase tickets.

The lottery takes place at the below times during RENT's regular performance schedule:
  • Monday: 6:00 PM – 6:30 PM (names drawn at 6:30 PM)
  • Tuesday: Dark
  • Wednesday: 6:00 PM – 6:30 PM (names drawn at 6:30 PM)
  • Thursday: 6:00 PM – 6:30 PM (names drawn at 6:30 PM)
  • Friday: 6:00 PM – 6:30 PM (names drawn at 6:30 PM)
  • Saturday: Noon – 12:30 PM (names drawn at 12:30 PM)
  • Saturday: 6:00 PM – 6:30 PM (names drawn at 6:30 PM)
  • Sunday: Noon – 12:30 PM (names drawn at 12:30 PM)
  • Sunday: 5:30 PM – 6:00 PM (names drawn at 6:00 PM)
Click here to buy tickets online.  For more information about the Off-Broadway production of RENT, visit