Rating: PG-13 for strong language, drug use and sexuality
Run Time: 2 hours, 8 minutes
It’s the season of love in this vigorous adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s tragic take on a cluster of young New Yorkers infected with the AIDS virus.
Chris Columbus forsakes Larson’s steely edge for a more accessible vibe. The
story kicks off with
roommate Tom Collins (Jesse L. Martin) reappears after a long absence a chain
of events is set in motion.
Shortly thereafter Roger meets and falls for downstairs neighbor cum junkie cum exotic dancer Mimi Marquez (Rosario Dawson). Mark’s ex Maureen (Idina Menzel) stages a housing protest with her new lover Joanne (Tracie Thoms) while former buddy Benny (Taye Diggs) makes incessant rent demands from his lofty uptown perch.
Physiological fortunes rise and fall for these impassioned bohemians while they struggle with the excessive baggage of relationships, illness and social disaffection. All set to the blistering music and lyrics of Larson, who died of a brain aneurysm the night before “Rent” made its off-Broadway debut in 1996.
opera than musical, “Rent” has energy to spare. Soft-selling
But all is
not rosy in Rent-town.
Jesse L. Martin is delicious as Collins, his deep baritone going down as smooth as hot chocolate. Yum. Rapp is every bit the Mark he was on stage, infusing his easygoing observer with something unfathomable and comfortably out of reach.
I bring a lot of baggage to this project having seen it five times on stage. Consequently there are inevitable comparisons that are hard to ignore. But the soul of Larson’s then-timely passion play is intact; bring on the Sing-A-Long version.