Rent, the most coveted original cast album of the 1996 Broadway season, is now in our hands. An advanced copy of Dreamworks' 2- CD recording of the musical that won the Pulitzer and Tony Award for Best Musical, three additional Tonys including Best Score, and many more awards, turned up in the Playbill office. Here's what you can expect to find on the album, cover to cover, when it is released in stores Aug. 27.
The cover features the original poster art by Amy Guip-- the title logo, surrounded by a collage of photos of characters from the show, including leads Daphne Rubin-Vega and Adam Pascal. In addition to containing the two-CD recording, the case also holds a booklet with the lyrics and a detailed synopsis of the plot-- the La Boheme-based story about young East Villagers in their search for creativity, love, health and dignity.
With 25 cuts on the first CD, 18 on the second, including an bonus track of "Seasons of Love" featuring Stevie Wonder and the cast of RENT, the entire running time of the album is 128 minutes and 37 seconds.
Many spoken words in the sung-through score have been cut out from the recording, but are included in the written lyrics. For example, Mark's opening speech introducing himself, his roommate Roger, and where they live, is not on the recording, but is written in the lyric sheets. Also printed are Mark's narrated stage directions throughout, like "Enter Tom Collins, computer genius..."
Some dialogue has been cut from numbers and not included on the lyric sheets. For example, in "Tango Maureen" when Mark and Maureen tango, the booklet marks, "(they dance)" and does not include the cute conversation about where they each learned to tango, revealing their backgrounds. However, we were thankful to hear that all the phone messages in the show are included on the album. The booklet is spruced up with photos of individuals in the cast. Highlighted lyrics from the show frame the pages, in the same washed out, uppercase font type as the logo. One page is headed by "NO OTHER ROAD NO OTHER WAY." A photo of one of the Persons With AIDS is captioned by, "WILL I LOSE MY DIGNITY/ WILL SOMEONE CARE / WILL I WAKE TOMORROW FROM THIS NIGHTMARE?"
The back of the CD lists all the numbers in order, accompanied by a picture of the cast, dancing on the tables in the number "La Vie Boheme."
Stevie Wonder's version of "Seasons of Love," responsible in part for the delay of the album as it was recorded nearly two months after the score, uses a harmonica and a drum machine to 'pop' up the hit tune. Wonder sings along with the cast, except for the second verse, which he sings solo. The press agent for the show does not expect the single to be released apart from the cast album.
The album is produced by Arif Mardin, a producer who has won many Grammy Awards including 1975 Producer of the Year, 1978 Album of the Year (Saturday Night Fever) , and 1996 Best Musical Recording Grammy for Smokey Joe's Cafe. Co-producer Steve Skinner worked with composer Jonathan Larson on the project from it's conception.
Following the lyrics in the booklet, a tribute to Jonathan Larson appears with a photo and the heading "NO DAY BUT TODAY." It reads:
February 4, 1960 -January 25, 1996
Jonathan Larson was intensely passionate about living life, creating music and changing his part of the world-Broadway and musical theater. The exuberance, the passion and the philosophy of RENT are clear reflections of his life and the way he chose to live it. Jonathan's sudden unexpected death on the very day his dream came true is a sobering reminder to make the most of the time we have. Listen to his music, reach out to your community, and celebrate all the love in your life.
No day but today.
For all those who look forward to receiving the album as much as we did, enjoy!
-- By Blair Glaser, Andrew Ku and Katie Webber