Out Tonight! Original Cast of Rent Reunites to Celebrate 10 Seasons of Love

News   Out Tonight! Original Cast of Rent Reunites to Celebrate 10 Seasons of Love One of the bigger, noisier parties of the 2005-06 Broadway season will be thrown April 24 at the Nederlander Theatre, where the original cast of Rent jumps into a freshly-conceived, one-night-only concert version of the rock musical.

From Left: Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp in the original Broadway cast of Rent.
From Left: Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp in the original Broadway cast of Rent.

Reliable rumor has it that Rent 10 (which the evening has been dubbed) will include special surprise guests on stage for the show's finale. It's not hard to guess that alumni will be somehow involved in the performance, which celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Broadway opening five days before the milestone of April 29.

According to the production's press office, the April 24 show will represent the 4,157th performance of the musical by Jonathan Larson.

The production launched the careers of Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp and Daphne Rubin-Vega.

The original cast members include Gilles Chiasson, Diggs, Heredia, Rodney Hicks, Kristen Lee Kelly, Martin, Menzel, Aiko Nakasone, Timothy Britten Parker, Pascal, Rapp, Rubin-Vega, Gwen Stewart, Byron Utley, and Fredi Walker-Browne.

The Monday audience will be a mix of fans and friends of the production, and folks who shelled out $500-$2,500 per ticket. The night is a splashy benefit for three not-for-profit organizations. Original director Michael Greif and music director Tim Weil oversee the April 24 staging (and continue to maintain the long-running hit at the Nederlander).

A gala party will follow at Cipriani 42nd Street.

The starry 6:45 PM performance and gala will benefit three not-for-profit organizations — Friends In Deed, the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation, and New York Theatre Workshop. The orgs "share strong connections" to Rent's late creator Jonathan Larson, "but also exemplify through their work the commitment to building culture, community, and creativity that is celebrated in Rent," according to organizers.

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In keeping with Rent tradition, tickets for the first two rows of the theatre April 24 will be available on the day of the event for $20 by lottery.

"The lottery will be held on Monday April 24 at the Nederlander Theatre, 208 West 41 Street. Registration cards will be handed out beginning at 2 PM for a drawing to take place at 3 PM for that evening's benefit. No line-ups for registration forms will be allowed prior to 1 PM. Tickets must be paid for in cash.

The $20 tickets are for the benefit performance only and are only available by lottery—they are not available by phone or on the internet.

For those who cannot snag a lottery ticket (or afford a gala ticket) to the starry concert, the regular performance of the musical (with the current Broadway cast) will cost $20 per seat for the entire house Tuesday April 25, the day following the benefit. Every seat in the Nederlander Theatre will be sold on the morning of April 25. Tickets will go on sale at 9 AM on a first-come, first-served basis.

There will be a limit of two tickets per person and tickets must be paid for with cash. There will be no regular lottery that day.

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Rent, written by composer-lyricist-librettist Jonathan Larson and directed by Michael Greif, opened at Broadway's Nederlander Theatre on April 29, 1996, following a sold out, extended limited engagement at Off-Broadway's New York Theatre Workshop.

Larson died of an undiagnosed heart ailment on the eve of the first downtown performance. He would not see the musical go on to win every major best musical award, including the Tony Award, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

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Founded by Mike Nichols and Cynthia O'Neal in 1991, Friends In Deed—The Crisis Center for Life-Threatening Illness—has "helped transform many thousands of lives through a wide array of free programs and services." They provide emotional and spiritual support to anyone diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-threatening physical illnesses. Support is also available for family, friends, and caregivers of those who are ill, and anyone dealing with grief and bereavement. Friends In Deed also runs an HIV prevention program for teens in New York City public schools, having already reached over 80,000 at-risk students. Friends In Deed served as the model for the support group in Rent. (Larson attended many meetings at Friends In Deed with a close friend who was diagnosed as HIV-positive.) The organization's president, Cynthia O'Neal, also met with the original Rent cast and various other new companies to assist them in understanding what it is like to be a person living with HIV/AIDS.

"To celebrate his creative spirit and honor his memory," Jonathan Larson's family and friends created the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation in 1996. The mission of the Foundation is to provide financial support and encouragement to a new generation of musical theatre composers, lyricists, and bookwriters, as well as nonprofit theatre companies that develop and produce their work. It is one of the few places where individual creative theatre artists can turn for help. Each year, the Foundation receives over 150 applications, which are carefully reviewed by readers, staff and trustees. The finalists are sent to a panel of noted theatre professionals to determine the final list of recipients and grant amounts. The awards are presented at a gala awards luncheon each February. Individual awards are presented with no restrictions, "except to be put to the best possible use to help further the artist's creative endeavors." Organizations receive project grants in support of the development of new musical theatre projects. To date the Foundation has presented awards to over 50 individuals who represent some of the most exciting artists working in the musical theatre today.

New York Theatre Workshop is an Off-Broadway theatre best known for its acclaimed and innovative productions, which include Jonathan Larson's Rent, Doug Wright's Quills, Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul, Martha Clarke's Vienna: Lusthaus (revisited), Caryl Churchill's Mad Forest, Far Away and A Number, and Claudia Shear's Blown Sideways Through Life and Dirty Blonde. "It is also a place where artists create new work, hone their craft and collaboratively explore theatre... all in its East Village space located in the heart of New York's downtown arts scene."

With an average of four to six readings and related workshop events each week, "much of the work and many of the artists seen on stages throughout the city, across the country and around the world can trace their way back to NYTW."

The co-chairs of Rent 10 are Allan S. Gordon, James L. Nederlander, and Jonathan M. Tisch.

Rent 10 is sponsored by Target.