This is the part where I out myself as a huge fan of the musical Rent. As in, for a long time I dressed like Broadway’s idea of a homeless person to emulate the ensemble. As in, my friend Stephanie and I were so sad when the tour left LA our junior year of college that we followed it to Arizona, sleeping in her car and changing into our theater dresses in the restroom of a Jack in the Box.
It’s a little embarrassing in retrospect, but I have no regrets. There have only been a few bandwagons I’ve jumped on in my life (collecting My Little Ponies, working for a dot-com, blogging), and sometimes it’s nice to be a part of your time. Sometimes it’s nice to do something really intensely. And how else is a nice queer girl from the suburbs supposed to discover la vie Boheme?
Like most fans who learn that the source of their fandom is going (even more) mainstream, I had mixed feelings about the upcoming movie, directed by Chris Columbus. Would they cast a bunch of American Idol stars? Would it be the new Cop Rock? Would the gay characters get to kiss onscreen?
After seeing the trailer, the answers seem to be No, Probably Not, and Yes. While I’m withholding any kind of official judgment, I can tell you that two notes into “Seasons of Love” (the song is the entirety of the trailer, a la “The Circle of Life” for The Lion King) I started to cry. Yep. Music is like smell, whether it’s religious chanting or the REM song that you and Jill McCormick sang all summer in sixth grade as you splashed around her swimming pool. It’s a big ol’ memory floodgate.
Rent is a musical about AIDS in the East Village written by a straight white guy, but it also led me to read People in Trouble, the novel that author Sarah Schulman accused Jonathan Larson of plagiarizing for his play, and then three other novels of hers, and to learn more about that whole ‘80s East Village scene, and to think that maybe I could live some kind of artistic life myself. (But, like, with a functioning heater.) So sometimes taking it to the masses brings the masses to interesting places.
Steph and I will be there when the movie opens, camped out with all the wide-eyed 16-year-olds and nostalgic 28-year-olds.