The actors who created the respective roles of bohemians Roger and Mark in the Broadway sensation more than a decade ago returned to those roles July 30. Since then, business has boomed for the 11-year-old musical by Jonathan Larson.
An overflow crowd of fans greets the troupers after every performance.
Rapp told Playbill.com, "We were sort of popular back in the day. We had people waiting for us. But it was sane. Now, it's a little crazy. It's incredible. There's a frenzy to it. We literally had to put up barricades. The first night we didn't have barricades, and everybody was getting crushed."
Pascal added, There are so many people that once the people in front get their things signed, there's no way they can leave. They're so mashed into the crowd that the crowd never thins out. It's so dense."
For the week of Aug. 13-19, Rent was at 99.7 percent of capacity (with an average ticket price of $64.95). Last February, it was at 50 percent of capacity. In mid-August 2006 — a year ago — the capacity was in the mid-80 percent range. Rapp plays young filmmaker Mark Cohen in the East Village-set show inspired by Puccini's La Boheme. Rapp and Pascal were to be with the show for six weeks, but have agreed to stay on four additional weeks.
Pascal was a Tony Award nominee for playing the musician-songwriter who has muse issues. Both he and Rapp re-created their roles for the film version of the 1996 musical by late composer-lyricist-librettist Larson.
"American Idol" veteran Tamyra Gray is Roger's Mimi.
The musical is about love, friendship, creativity and connection in the age of AIDS. The musical won the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Among post-Rent gigs for the actors: Pascal (himself a musician-singer) would later appear in Broadway's Aida and Cabaret, and Rapp played the title character in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown on Broadway.
Both Pascal and Rapp appeared in the 1995-96 New York Theatre Workshop Off-Broadway production of Rent that was swept on a wave of praise to Broadway in 1996. Michael Greif directed.
Larson, the show's young creator, died on the eve of the Off-Broadway bow. The cause was a then-undiagnosed heart ailment.
For more information about Broadway's Rent, visit www.siteforrent.com.