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February 4, 2005

Vie de Bohéme

The touring production of Rent
returns to Cincinnati

Rent has been one of the most vivid Broadway phenomena of the latter half of the 20th century. A brief engagement of the Broadway tour is returning to Cincinnati February 4-6. The show has developed legions of fans and old faithfuls and continues to attract new audiences from year to year and city to city.

Based on Puccini’s La Bohéme, Rent is the updated story of love and loyalty among starving artists in New York’s East Village, the mecca of diversity and openness in the United States.

In Puccini’s operatic version, his Parisian bohemians are afflicted with tuberculosis--the ghastly illness that was the pandemic of its time. Larson looks at the modern equivalent--AIDS, a disease that had struck down several of his closest friends--and uses it as the backdrop to his musical set in New York.

Rent opened at New York’s Nederlander Theatre on the 100th anniversary of the original La Bohéme. Tragically, Larson died unexpectedly of an aortic aneurysm the night of the show’s final preview. However, his creation went on to become one of the biggest Broadway success stories of the decade. It swept all the major theatre awards of 1996: the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Obie Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, four Tony Awards and three Drama Desk Awards.

The musical’s most well-known song, “Seasons of Love,” has become an anthem of sorts, not only for disenfranchised GLBT folk and others who seek equality, but also for those still profoundly trying to defeat the modern pandemic of AIDS.

The song goes:

“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred moments so dear, Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, How do you measure, measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, How do you measure a year in the life? How about love?”

And that has been Rent’s biggest draw--its ability to blend pathos with gritty reality, love with death, hope with defeat, faith with cynicism. Rent speaks volumes to and about the youth of today, those struggling to create a better world than the one their parents seem hell-bent on leaving them with.

Rent will play the Aronoff Center February 4 - 6: Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. For ticket rates and availability go to www.cincinnatiarts.com or call 513-6212787.

The show is offering $20 tickets for front row orchestra seats (based on availability) two hours before each show. This is the producers’ way of keeping in tune with the characters in their show--starving artists who could not normally afford to see a Broadway tour. This special deal will allow lucky ones to get remaining front row seats for cash only and with a limit of two tickets per person.

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