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Rent Remixed (London)

Updated on January 16, 2015

Rent Remixed: The 'London' RENT by Jonathan Larson

Have you heard of Jonathan Larson's RENT? If you did, you probably didn't know that it got a facelift for an all new London production, called Rent Remixed

The summer of 2007 started rehearsals for one of the most talked about and controversial adaptations of a Broadway/West End show in a loooooong time: Rent Remixed. Bravely and respectfully adapted by William Baker, Steve Anderson and Terry Ronald, this 90s Boho Rock Opera was transformed into a glorious 21st Century Pop Opera. Some people didn't like it so much, but fans and critics celebrated it.

Starring huge names from the world of stage and music, including: Denise Van Outen, Luke Evans, Siobhan Donaghy, Leon Lopez, Jessie Wallace and none other than the vocal skills of Kylie Minogue herself. This show set critics and audiences ablaze with opinions and objections. Read on to see what all the fuss was about.

"BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER"

CAPITAL RADIO

"COLOSSAL TUNES. A MUST SEE"

LONDON LITE

"THE SEXIEST CAST IN LONDON"

SUNDAY TIMES

Jonathan Larson's Rent: It's Inspiration and story...

Larson's inspiration for Rent's content came from several different sources. Many of the characters and plot elements are drawn directly from Giacomo Puccini's opera La bohème, the world premiere of which was in 1896-100 years before Rent's premiere. La bohème was also about the lives of poor young artists. Tuberculosis, the plague of Puccini's opera, is replaced by AIDS in Rent; 1800s Paris is replaced by New York's East Village in the late 1980s. The names and identities of Rent's characters also heavily reflect Puccini's original characters, though they are not all direct adaptations. For example, Joanne in Rent is an amalgamation of both Marcello and Alcindoro in Bohème. Rodolfo became Roger, Musetta became Maureen and Benoit became Benny.

Rent tells the story of a group of bohemians struggling to live and pay their rent in the gritty background of New York's East Village. "Measuring their lives in love," these starving artists strive for success and acceptance while enduring the obstacles of poverty, illness and the AIDS epidemic.

RENT REMIXED Cast Info

Played at the

DUKE OF YORK'S THEATRE, LONDON

3rd October 2007 - 2nd February 2008

THE ORIGINAL LONDON CAST

Mark - Oliver Thornton

Roger - Luke Evans

Collins - Leon Lopez

Benny - Craig Stein

Joanne - Francesca Jackson

Angel - Jay Webb

Mimi - Siobhan Donaghy

Maureen - Denise Van Outen

Maureen (After December 22nd 2007) - Jessie Wallace

ENSEMBLE

Ruth Augilera

Lewis Griffiths

CJ Johnson

Antony Luperi

Earl Perkins

Jamie Sampson

Gemma Whitelam

Philippa Stefani

Alexander Forster


Rent Remixed the Poster, starring Denise Van Outen

The Characters in Rent by Jonathan Larson...

ROGER DAVIS: An HIV-infected musician who is recovering from heroin addiction; his girlfriend April killed herself after finding out she and he had HIV; Mark's roommate and Mimi's love interest.

MIMI MARQUEZ: An HIV-positive exotic dancer and heroin junkie; Roger's love interest who used to be involved with Benny

MARK COHEN: A struggling documentary filmmaker, the narrator of the show and the person who creates a final movie which details his friends' lives and journeys throughout the story. Ex-boyfriend of Maureen. Roommate of Roger.

TOM COLLINS: A gay philosophy teacher and anarchist with AIDS; friend and former roommate of Roger, Mark, Benny, and Maureen; Angel's lover.

ANGEL DUMOTT SCHUNARD: A gay drag queen street percussionist musician with AIDS; Collins' lover.

JOANNE JEFFERSON: An Ivy League-educated lawyer; Maureen's lover; lesbian.

MAUREEN JOHNSON: A lesbian performance artist; Joanne's girlfriend; Mark's ex-girlfriend.

BENJAMIN "BENNY" COFFIN III: Landlord of Mark, Roger and Mimi's apartment building; ex-roommate of Mark, Collins, Roger, and Maureen. Now married to Alison Grey of the Westport Greys and thus considered a yuppie sell-out.

The Cast of Rent Remixed Sing 'Seasons Of Love'

To give you an idea of the 'new' look that was created, and to see the cast...check out this video of them singing on 'Children In Need' 2008

What Did The Audience Think of Rent Remixed?

Although 'Rent Remixed' got a lot of stick...check out this video. It has interviews with the audience before and after. Lots of people came over from America to see it, check out the first guy - big renthead - and he loved it!

Theatrical Controversy...?

Should Musical Revivals (such as Rent) be given a new lease of life?

See results

Watch the film version of Rent

If you fancy seeing the original version, as a film, then get this.

Rent (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)
Rent (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)

If you fancy seeing the original version, as a film, then get this.The music and characterisation is different to the remixed version - but worth a purchase none the less. Definately one for the DVD collection.

 

The Opening Number in Rent Remixed...

Someone recorded the opening number from the show...I thought it was interesting to put up, if anyone knows how the original Rent opens...you can hear the difference (and it's quite an obvious one)

Measure Your Life In Love

Seasons of Love lyrics

Some people had issues with the changes that were made to the show, but the heart of the show was still the same. The story was still as poignant. Jonathan Larson's message was still being delivered. Here are the lyrics to the show's 'theme' song.

525,600 minutes

525,000 moments so dear.

525,600 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 525,600 minutes

How do you measure a year in the life?

How about love?

Measure in love.

Seasons of love.

525,600 minutes

525,000 journeys to plan.

525,600 minutes

How can you measure the life of a woman or man?

In truths that she learned, or in times that he cried.

In bridges he burned, or the way that she died.

It's time now to sing out,

though the story never ends

let's celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends.

Remember the love!

Remember the love! Measure in love.

Seasons of love!

Seasons of love.

Tolerance: A Brief History of the Theatre world...and Jonathan Larson's Rent

You might not realise it, but tolerance as an important theme in musicals has continued in recent decades. West Side Story left a message of racial tolerance with its final expression. By the end of the '60s, musicals became racially integrated, with black and white cast members covering each others' roles, as they did in Hair.

Casting in some musicals is an attempt to represent the community at the subject of the drama, as in Rent and the musical In the Heights. Homosexuality has been explored in such musicals, beginning with Hair, and even more overtly in La Cage aux Folles and Falsettos. Parade is a sensitive exploration of both anti-Semitism and historical American racism.

Jonathan Larson's musical Rent (based on the opera La Bohème) attempted to increase the popularity of musicals among a younger audience. It features a cast of twentysomethings, and the score is heavily rock-influenced (or in the case of Rent Remixed, pop-influenced). The musical became a hit, even with its composer dying of an aortic aneurysm on the night of the final dress rehearsal at New York Theatre Workshop, before he could see it reach Broadway. A group of young fans, styled RENTheads, line up at the Nederlander Theatre hours early in hopes of winning the lottery for $20 front row tickets, and some have seen the show more than 50 times.

RENT REMIXED extract review: From The British Theatre Guide

Review by Philip Fisher (2007)

This highly enjoyable new version of Rent somehow manages to fuse Puccini with Kylie to great effect....Baker may have two drawcards in the leading roles but one of the reasons for the pleasure that this almost three hour musical provides is almost perfect casting of all of the main roles, together with an energetic ensemble who perform well on a rather bland whitewashed stage that does, however, soak up David Howe's rock concert lights, creating a series of memorable images...Her role as Maureen is not that big but Miss van Outen has tremendous stage presence and since she knows how to belt out the blues and seduce an audience will win lots of friends for her performance...The music features many catchy tunes which will undoubtedly mean that passers-by will hear an awful lot of humming and singing just after the final curtain every night...The choreography from Ashley Wallen is also impressive, seemingly owing an awful lot to the rock concert background of the show's director, designer and lighting supremo...Some may have questioned the wisdom of remixing Rent but it is hard to believe that this vibrant but moving evening will not be a long-term sell-out.

Isn't that...Kylie Minogue...at Rent Remixed? - Yup...She was in it too, well her voice was...

Rent Memorabilia

There isn't much out there to purchase from the Remixed version of RENT, but plenty to see...Pick up a rare treat...

Promo Photo for Rent Remixed

RENT REMIXED extract review: From Broadwayworld.com

by Robert Gould (on October 16th 2007)

When Jonathon Larson conceived his ground-breaking musical Rent, he set out to create a serious piece of musical theatre with a rock score. So director William Baker and musical supervisor Steve Anderson's decision to "remix" what has become a revered rock cult classic musical might appear to some to be an ill-conceived travesty. Or is it, others might argue, anymore of a travesty than was Larson's original idea to re-work Puccini's operatic masterpiece La Boheme as a rock musical?... the strength of the material shines through right from the first few moments as the wonderful ensemble cast chant the haunting lines "Will I Lose My Dignity?" before bursting into the glorious "Seasons Of Love". For at the core of the production is Jonathon Larson's brilliant score - including "One Song Glory", "Another Day", "Santa Fe", "I'll Cover You", "Without You" and "Goodbye Love" - all now sounding in some ways more lush and melodious than ever...Francesca Jackson steals the thunder amongst the female cast. Oozing with sophistication and class as the accomplished attorney, Joanne (Maureen's lover), she delivers her lyrics with dexterity and punch and at times her vocals are astonishing...The HIV positive songwriter, Roger, who lights Mimi's candle in both metaphor and reality, is played by Luke Evans with an immense presence that allows him to move effortlessly back and forth from fragility to anger, from despair to hope. And when he sings he is nothing short of outstanding.

Many diehard "Rent-heads" will no doubt find the whole experience unsatisfying, even distasteful. And it is true that this production is far from perfect - but the original Broadway version is far from perfect. If one approaches this production with an open mind, despite its flaws Rent Remixed is a very enjoyable evening. All true lovers of the art of musical theatre should go to see the show with no pre-conceived hang-ups. After all, as the definitive lines from Larson's lyrics state: "Forget regret or life is yours to miss."

RENT REMIXED extract review: From The Times

by Louis Wise (October 21st 2007)

Anyone who knows Rent from its savage parody, Lease, in the film Team America: World Police ("Everyone has Aids!/ Aids! Aids! Aids! / Aids! Aids! Aids! Aids! Aids! Aids!") will know it's a feast for ironists and cynics. When it opened in New York a decade ago, however, the musical drew praise for its portrayal of the city's bohemians, many of them gay and/or HIV-positive. Based on La bohème, the "rock opera" shares Puccini's tragic arc, but it responds to the desolation of drugs and Aids with some high kicks, some vocal belting and a whole lot of life-affirming hand-holding. In short, in the gay old-fashioned way. The director, William Baker - Kylie Minogue's stylist and collaborator - has "remixed" it, so now some characters are British, and songs have been tweaked. The remix also has Denise Van Outen (outstanding) and the former Sugababe Siobhan Donaghy (very good too, if still incapable of smiling). But some leopards can't change their diamanté spots: it's happy, shiny, yet somehow not fresh. Though you can't fault the message or the feeling, there are surely better ways of expressing them today.

They also said this:

"The songs, apart from a few numbers - notably 'Seasons of Love' and 'Take Me or Leave Me' - are forgettable. If Larson intended to present a gritty slice of street life, there's no new evidence of that here. Baker may have toned down the eyes-and-teeth showbiz bravura, but inhabitants of this Alphabet City are hardly slumming it, on a white multi-levelled set by Mark Bailey. Still, Anderson has done a cracking job of funking up Larson's score, replacing overweening guitar rock with pumping gay club anthems and diva pop, flavoured with rippling keyboards and electronica … Oliver Thornton and Luke Evans bring intensity and a latent homoeroticism to the friendship of the narrator Mark and his roommate Roger. Yet the only touching relationship is that of Leon Lopez's brawny Collins and Jay Webb's adorable and emotionally tough Angel, who succumbs to AIDS, in the form of a throng of S&M vampires, in camp, affecting style. Overall, this is a flawed product stylishly repackaged. Whether it spawns a new generation of 'Renthead' fans remains to be seen. But I suspect Larson wouldn't have been displeased with the makeover."

Rent Remixed Set Design

Jessie Wallace takes over from Denise Van Outen in Rent Remixed

RENT REMIXED extract review: From The Evening Standard

by Nicolas de Jongh

Magical, poignant songs ...Impressive: Luke Evans as Roger and former Sugababe Siobhan Donaghy as Mimi...The best of Larson's songs, those extraordinary, poignant laments in which young Nineties Americans faced up to the terrible decline and fall of Aids, worked their magic last night, thanks to Steve Anderson's musical rearrangements for a powerful just four-strong orchestra. They keep much of their power, passion and musical glory. I can think of no musical whose lyrics so startle with their youthful despair - "How do you measure your last year on earth" - or songs as desolate as Without You to which Siobhan Donaghy's thin, seductive waif of a Mimi gives lovely voice... Both Miss Donaghy and the cute Evans are vocally impressive.... At least Baker improves upon Larson's original in which the swooning, dying Mimi miraculously recovers consciousness... Enjoy Rent Remixed for its exquisite songs, not its vacuous story

The Cast of Rent Remixed in Rehearsal

MP3's of the Original Version

Although the musical arrangements are slightly different to 'Rent Remixed', these are still great and definitely worth a little listen to: SEASONS OF LOVE, TAKE ME OR LEAVE ME & RENT, even if you don't intend to buy any...

...or listen to the whole thing...

Once again to explain, lyrically and melodically 'Rent' and 'Rent Remixed' are exactly the same...it's just that the orchestrations of 'Rent Remixed' have been brought up to date and made more modern and funkier. Please have a listen to the music, both are wonderful, Jonathan Larson was a very clever chappy.

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Did you see Rent Remixed? What did you think? What do you think of this lens...thoughts thoughts thoughts please :)

How Do You Measure A Year?...

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    • MarcoG profile image
      Author

      Marc 4 years ago from Edinburgh

      @cdevries: Thanks CDevries. Rent Remixed was an excellent production, so different from the original, yes with the same heart and intent to touch the audience. Thanks for stopping by :)

    • cdevries profile image

      cdevries 4 years ago

      A really nice page on this revival - I hadn't known much about it. Thanks for including a set photo!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Sounds great - thanks for sharing!

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Terrific lens.

    • aquariann profile image

      aquariann 8 years ago

      I saw Rent in New York several years ago. I loved it, as did most of my friends - but our chorus teacher walked out and waited in the lobby. I didn't even know there was a Remixed version until reading this lens. It seems a little soon to redo it, but I'd still check it out if given the opportunity. Great lens!!

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 8 years ago

      Wonderful lens about a great show, I really enjoyed the videos and music, thank you!

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 8 years ago from Idaho

      Excellent presentation of Rent, would love to see it!

    • Robyco profile image

      Robyco 8 years ago

      Looks like a lot of fun. Have to go see it sometime.

    • LucyVet profile image

      LucyVet 8 years ago

      Another great lens and another 5*!

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I've read the script for Rent - excellent. (As is your lens). 5* for superb layout and clear information in an engaging style

    • YourCover Mama profile image

      YourCover Mama 8 years ago

      I ABSOLUTELY LOVED RENT!! Just a great play, and a great lens! 5*

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 8 years ago from London, England

      Another excellent lens (5*)

    • profile image

      SteveWilliams 8 years ago

      This is such a great lens and I really love Rent (bit of an Idina Menzel fan). You've done such a great job here I had to give you five stars.

      Thanks a bunch for putting this up here,

      All the best,

      Steve

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 8 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      What an extensive lens!

    • profile image

      ChristiannaGarrett-Martin 8 years ago

      I love Rent! A great Lens with excellent photos. In fact the whole layout is well structured. Really enjoyable to view :)

      Christianna.

    • beempa lm profile image

      beempa lm 8 years ago

      I am glad you incorporated nice large photos! Makes the lens much better. :) Lots of work went into this lens. 5**** and a fav! Stop by my Scary Halloween Masks lens for a treat! :)

    • profile image

      tdove 8 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 8 years ago

      Interesting. I like the blue box with the quotes at the beginning.