Rent Rent Rent Rent Rent

Oct 26, 2009
by: C.Wood

It is really exciting how receptive and enthusiastic the school has been to Rent. I know that a lot of people have been commenting about it on youth voices, however since I am in just a complete rent mode I'm just going to add to the list.

Jonathon Larson grew up surrounded by theatre.  His early idols were Elton John, The Who's, and the classic Stephen Sondheim. He pursued theatre in college at Aldelphi University, and there he began his career as a composer. After college Larson moved into an apartment with a couple of his friends, including Jesse L. Martin who portrayed the role of "Collins" in the first opening of Rent. Similar to Roger and Mark, Larson and crew lived with little money, and no heat. Some of his early works were Sacrimmoralinority, and Superbia which was actually based off of Geroge Orwell's 1984, if that rings a bell for any AP Language and Composition students. With Stephen Sondheim's guidance, Larson eventually created tick, tick...BOOM!, and autobiographical musical which was played off broadway. After tick, tick...BOOM! Larson wrote various musical pieces until he found himself faced with RENT. Much of RENT is taken from parts of his own life.
He portrays himself through the part of Mark Cohen where occurences such as having his girlfriend dump him for another woman was actually plucked out from his own life.  If anyone remembers the song "Halloween" which Mark sings in Act 2, this song was created because Larson was so in love with Anthony Rapp's voice and it was an expression of his frustration at the present time with his close friends dying and he could do nothing about it. Rent was first performed off broadway, however it was so warmly recieved it was soon moved to broadway, however Larson died before he could see it open on broadway. Jonathon Larson died from an aortic aneurysm on January 25, 1996 which they believe was caused by Marfan syndrome. Although he has passed away, Larson has left behind a huge legacy.  Rent is the 7th longest running show in broadway history, and it as also won numerous awards.

Larson was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama,[4] the Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score; the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music, and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics;[10] the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical; the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical in the Off-Broadway category; and three Obie Awards for Outstanding Book, Outstanding Lyrics and Outstanding Music.(

After his death, Larson's family set up the Jonathon Larson Performing Arts Foundation to help struggling artists have the money and freedom to continue pursuing what they love.