The ragtag group of lovers and friends in Rent — the musical tale of East Village bohemians struggling to have their voices heard and their bodies thrive in the time of plague — sings the anthem, "Seasons of Love," for the 2,000th time Feb. 11, at the Nederlander Theatre.
The fairy-tale Broadway musical that began with the premature death of its composer-lyricist-librettist Jonathan Larson in 1996 and ended with rave reviews, a Tony Award, a Pulitzer Prize and international productions, meets that rare performance milestone at the Sunday matinee.
On April 29, the so-called "rock opera" inspired by La Boheme, will celebrate its fifth anniversary. The show, directed by Michael Greif, is now No. 20 on the list of the longest-running shows in Broadway history. It will soon pass Smokey Joe's Café and move into 19th place.
Despite occasional seasonal slumps, Rent continues going strong, and had its highest grossing week yet in the final week of 2000. For the week ending Dec. 31, 2000, Rent grossed $664,897.50, a Nederlander Theatre house record, according to the producers.
The cast of Rent currently includes Natalie Venetia Belcon (Joanne), Aisha de Haas, Trey Ellett (Mark), Cristina Fadale (Maureen), Mark Leroy Jackson (Collins), Stu James (Benny), Owen Johnston II, Kendra Kassebaum, Darryl Ordell, Manley Pope (Roger), Chad Richardson, Andy Senor (Angel), Byron Utley (original cast member), Kim Varhola, and Loraine Velez (Mimi). Rent opened April 29, 1996, following a sold-out, extended run at New York Theatre Workshop. Larson died on the eve the NYTW staging, of an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm. Following his death, and the huge success of Rent, his family established The Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation and now offers annual awards for rising musical theatre writers.
Rent tickets are $35-$80. A limited number of $20 day-of-performance tickets are available by lottery at the Nederlander Theatre two hours before each show and ninety minutes before Sunday evening performances. For ticket information, call (212) 307-4100.