To much fanfare, the highly anticipatedRent cast recording hit record stores nationally on August 27. Soundscan figures reported on Sept. 5 show the 2-CD set sold 42,000 copies and entered the Billboard Top 200 chart in the 19th spot.
The figures may seem disappointing at first blush, but it's a stellar performance relative to other Broadway cast recordings. Stephen Sondheim's Passion CD debuted in the 103rd spot with sales of 11,600 copies, while the highest Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera recording has reached on the Billboard chart has been 33rd. For a cast recording, Rent appears on the fast track to achieving Gold Record status - sales of over 500,000 units. Recent big-selling cast recordings that have reached that milestone include Dreamgirls and Miss Saigon (Gold status) and Cats and Les Miserables (Platinum status, with over 1,000,000 sold).
A DreamWorks/Geffen publicist for the recording said she was thrilled by the sales figures, pointing out that the Rent CD was #2 in New York for the week and #1 in the city for the first day of sales.
Tickets for the Boston production of Rent go on sale at 9 AM (ET) Friday, Sept. 6 simultaneously at the Shubert Theatre, which will house the show, and via Telecharge at 800-447-7400.
The Boston stand will be the musical's first spinoff from the original NY production, and will run from Nov. 5 until Jan. 26 (opening Nov. 18) prior to embarking on a national tour that will include Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington and Detroit. No dates have been announced for the post-Boston tour.
Casting for the production is still underway with rehearsals scheduled to begin early October.
To promote the upcoming production, Broadway cast members flew to Boston Wednesday to perform "Seasons of Love" and "No Day But Today."
With a healthy chunk of the Broadway production's success attributable to the show's lauded performances, a question now being asked is how long the original castmembers will remain with the show.
According to the production's general management office, the current cast is signed until November, with extensions currently under negotiation. Starting this month, actors will begin taking vacation time on a rotating basis.
A new block of tickets for the Broadway production of Rent - currently available through Feb. 23 - will go on sale this weekend, to be heralded by a full-page ad in the Sunday New York Times Arts and Leisure section. Tickets for performances through July 6, 1997 will be available via TicketMaster at 800-307-4100.
As summer segues into autumn and New York's weather cools, one can't help wondering what will happen to the daily lines of devoted theatregoers waiting for the show's $20 front row seats, sold two hours before each performance. Despite a recent hike in top ticket prices to $70 (until recently, Rent was among the remaining holdouts from the summer's across-the-board price jump for Broadway musicals), the show's producers remain committed to maintaining the discount ticket program. However, they haven't yet given much thought to how they will manage the dozens of ticketbuyers waiting 10-plus hours once really cold weather kicks in.
The Toronto production of Rent became officially homeless recently when an Ontario court ruled against the show's use of the Elgin Theater, which had been earmarked for the production. Garth Drabinsky, producer of the touring Donny Osmond Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (and unsuccessful bidder to produce Rent in Toronto) was awarded the use of the Elgin for a return engagement of Joseph.
According to a report in the Toronto Star, without the use of the Elgin, Toronto Rent producers are exploring a number of options, including setting up shop at the Princess of Wales Theatre - currently housing Disney's Beauty and the Beast - or the Royal Alex, which typically presents a subscription series but in the past has been used for extended runs, including Les Miserables.
An announcement of theater and performance dates for the 1997 production is expected shortly.
-- By Andrew Ku