The new book about the creation of Rent is due in bookstores June 2. Playbill On-Line obtained an advance copy and here are some of its most interesting features:
* Contains Jonathan Larson's complete libretto to the musical, which goes beyond the lyrics that accompany the CD.
* The majority of the book consists of an oral history of the musical's creation, letting the various participants describe Larson's upbringing, his writing career, his creation of the show, his death of an aortic aneurysm on the night of the final dress rehearsal, and an account of the show's bittersweet opening, and its "intense" transfer to Broadway.
* The books has an unusual format, about 9 1/2 by 14 inches, intermediate in size between a standard hardcover book and a coffee-table tome.
* The cover is completely black with the show's logo seemingly stenciled on the front. The spine is wrapped in faux wrinkled duct tape, to give it a rude punk look. * Inside, the pages are intensively designed to make the whole thing suggest a CD liner booklet, but pumped to book proportions.
* Tons of pictures: Larson growing up, his early shows, backstage with the original cast, etc.
* The final quarter of the book is an expanded version of the show's souvenier booklet, with photos and bios of everyone involved in the show.
* There is a two-page "Geography of Rent" consisting of a map of lower Manhattan studded with landmarks mentioned in the musical (The Life Cafe; the 11th Street vacant lot where where Maureen sings "Over the Moon") and locales significant to the musical's creation (Larson's apartment, the New York Theatre Workshop).
* Published by Ron Weisbach Books, a division of William Morrow. Costs $38 U.S.; $49 Canadian.