Yesterday we saw Rent on its tour stop in Portland. I’ve written about the movie and music repeatedly here (because I love the movie and music), but it was my first time seeing the show performed on stage. The big draw on this particular tour is that Anthony Rapp (Mark) and Adam Pascal (Roger) are starring in their original roles. It was one of those shows for which you really really really really hope you don’t get an understudy.
So it was awesome.
The last Broadway performance was filmed and recently released on DVD; many of those starring in the show have continued in the current tour around the country. For me—because I’ve watched that DVD a meellion times—that means there were familiar faces besides just Mark and Roger. The actors playing Angel, Collins and Benny were in the “Live” DVD. Gwen Stewart (oh she of the amazing “Seasons of Love” solo) also appeared.
The actress playing Maureen was a surprise as a blonde, but I really enjoyed her. I’ve always had a hard time accepting the very dreamy Taye Diggs as a smarmy jackass, so I liked seeing a different actor as Benny. Of course, that is also why you didn’t read any headlines in The Oregonian today mentioning two women (the non-criminals Loveliest Lori and me) arrested for rushing the stage to touch the very dreamy Taye Diggs.
Speaking of Loveliest Lori, she and her group had a couple of extra unoccupied seats, and they invited me and Victor to sit with them. Their seats were 19 rows closer than our ticketed seats so we said yes because we are not idiots. Perhaps the best part, though, was getting to whisper with Lori throughout the show, occasionally about how Mimi’s derrière was way fab. (Is that wrong? I mean, for us to admire that girl’s derrière? Vic said he didn’t even notice Mimi’s derrière. Vic is a big fat liar.) At intermission I went to the back of the theater, where Mom was sitting with Betty and Manford, and dragged them up to sit near us, as there were lots of empty seats in the front. They loved the improved view, but Manford was disappointed that Mimi had changed from her derrière-emphasizing blue pants into a loose-fitting dress. Apparently he had noticed Mimi’s derrière along with me and Lori. But not Vic. Remember, Vic did not even notice.
After the show we all talked about how the cast’s energy was absolutely infectious. Seeing the performance live was a huge difference from watching it on DVD, and I’m already looking forward to seeing it again and again and again. I enjoyed it so much more than I expected to, and I fully intended to love it. The message and power of Rent simply consumed us in the best possible way. It was incredible.