22 years ago today, a rising composer by the name of Jonathan Larson about to officially premiere his new rock opera RENT Off Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop. However, he sadly did not get to witness that first performance or the many performances that came. In the wee hours of the morning of that first preview performance, he unexpectedly died of an aortic aneurysm in his SoHo apartment.
Shocked and heartbroken by the news of their friend and colleague, the company of RENT knew that the show must go on. The first preview was cancelled for the public. However, the company (in just a crazy amount of time) invited all of Jonathan’s friends and family to the Theater to perform a memorial edition of RENT sitting at the onstage table with no blocking or costumes. Jonathan’s friends were laughing, crying, and applauding with every moment of the show. They couldn’t believe that this score was written by their special colleague. At the very end, there was a moment of silence and what broke it, someone cried out THANK YOU JONATHAN LARSON and it rose to a 5-10 minute standing ovation.
The very next day, RENT officially began performances and it became a huge word of mouth hit Off Broadway and then transferred to Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre running for over 5,124 performances. The show and Jonathan received numerous awards (accepted by his family) including the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Thousands of productions of RENT are still happening around the world everywhere which people continue to honor Jonathan’s legacy and work.
In addition, Jonathan also opened up the doors for all the rising geniuses that came in that we all know on Broadway today including Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal, If/Then Musical), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton: An American Musical, In The Heights), and now Pasek and Paul (La La Land, Dear Evan Hansen, Greatest Showman).
If you want to learn more about RENT and it’s legacy how it changed the Theater world, join us on our INSPIRATION OF RENT Walking Tour. We will take you on a BOHEMIAN adventure like no other in the East Village learning about the historical sights, show you where certain scenes in the musical took place, where Jonathan got his inspiration from to write this landmark show, and more.
Thank you Jonathan Larson. NO DAY BUT TODAY!!
We Love You!!!