Recording of "RENT: The Musical" opening night?
May 28, 2010 7:03 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know if there is a recording of the original opening night of the "RENT" Musical; from the night after Jonathan Larson passed away, and if so, where I might find it?

I've wanted to see the first show for a long time. I'm a die hard RENT fan, and to see the original show and Broadway cast would be incredible. Any help or information I could get about this would be awesome.
posted by linzenoonoo to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Yikes. The circumstances surrounding the opening performance sound insane. From Wikipedia:
Rent started as a staged reading in 1993 at the New York Theatre Workshop, followed by a studio production that played a three-week run a year later. However, the version that is now known worldwide, a result of the years-long collaborative and editing process between Larson and the producers and director, was not publicly performed before Larson's death. Larson died of an aortic dissection, believed to have been caused by Marfan syndrome, in the early morning on January 25, 1996. It is believed that if the aortic dissection had been properly diagnosed and treated, Larson would have lived.

He had been suffering chest pains and also had nausea for several days prior, but doctors at St. Vincents Hospital could not find signs of a heart attack and so misdiagnosed it either as flu or stress. The show premiered off-Broadway that night, on schedule. Larson's parents (who were flying in for the show anyway) gave their blessing to open the show. Due to Larson's death the day before opening night, the cast agreed that they would premiere the show by simply singing it through, all the while sitting at three prop tables lined up on stage. But by the time the show got to its high energy "La Vie Boheme", the cast could no longer contain themselves and did the rest of the show as it was meant to be, minus costumes.
posted by schmod at 7:21 PM on May 28, 2010

Response by poster: Indeed, they do. That's one of the reasons I want to see the original show so badly; as emotionally moving as RENT has a tendency to be, this night seems like it would be almost painfully beautiful. Even watching the show as it is in its modern form, I bawl like a baby every time. It would be an experience all its own to see the original show, and it would add a lot of meaning to my...I suppose you could call it my "relationship" with the musical. (I don't mean that to sound creepy, I've always found an emotional connection with the show and find it very inspiring.)
posted by linzenoonoo at 7:32 PM on May 28, 2010

I read in Anthony Rapp's Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent that the off-Broadway premiere preview on January 25, 1996, following Larson's death, was cancelled in favour of a a private show for his friends and family. With the grief the family, friends, cast, and crew were dealing with, I'm not sure anyone would have would have had the foresight to record it.
posted by postpostpostscript at 7:36 PM on May 28, 2010

What postpostpostscript said. I highly doubt such a recording exists (surely we all would have seen it by now if it did), but I'm putting out my feelers with people who would know to be sure.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:40 PM on May 28, 2010

even if it does exist, it seems like the sort of thing that should be kept private. i understand and share your affection for the show and the people who brought it to the stage, but i would honestly be a little sad if this made it out to the public.
posted by nadawi at 7:46 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I was pretty heavily involved in the fandom in the nineties, and while tapes of pre-Broadway versions certainly circulated back then, I don't have any memory of hearing of the existence of that one, and I'm pretty sure I would.
posted by keever at 7:59 PM on May 28, 2010

Not that I know of.
posted by R. Mutt at 8:32 PM on May 28, 2010

And I agree with nadawi. If something exists, I would be very careful about assuming it should be public.
posted by R. Mutt at 8:40 PM on May 28, 2010

Response by poster: Yeah, you make a good point with the public knowledge idea. I hadn't considered that. I wasn't aware they had closed the show except for friends and family; I thought they kept consistent with the G.A. to the show aside from performing it the way they did.
posted by linzenoonoo at 11:28 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

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