About three months after writer, Jonathan Larson, died of an aortic dispersion, Rent opened on Broadway on April 29, 1996. Now 21 years later, the 20th anniversary tour of the Tony award winning musical hit Los Angeles. The Pantages Theater hosted the national tour from January 24 to January 29. Rent was the “Hamilton” of the turn of the millennium. It enticed the young generation with its rock style opera the way Hamilton draws in a young crowd with its interwoven rap.
Rent was Jonathan Larson’s only full length musical, and he never got to see it open or be a success, but his untimely death enticed people to see his musical. He was one of the few of his friend group to survive the AIDS crisis that shook New York and the world in the 1980s. This experience is what inspired his adaptation of Giacomo Puccini's opera La Bohème. He shows the year in the life of a group seven friends who deal with death, love, and passion all while fighting to stay alive. While Rent was a critical success, it has also remained prominent in today’s pop culture.
“How do you measure-measure a year?” probably rings a bell. The start of the second act starts with Seasons of Love which has continued to be used in television shows such as Glee, Dancing with the Stars, and The Office. Not only that but the extent of its reach goes to Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda who sites Rent as one of his early inspirations and an inspiration for Hamilton as well.
The lesson to take from Rent is to love one another because “the opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation,” and at the end of the day, Larson showed the world that the only true measure of a life is love.