BY: ELIZABETH DURAND STREISAND & JULIA SALKIN
When RENT debuted on Broadway in 1996, it was like nothing the Great Bright Way had ever seen before. Loosely based on Puccini’s opera La Boheme, it told the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to find their way in New York City’s Lower East Side under the looming shadow of the AIDS epidemic. In advance our our Stage Door Session with Playbill tonight, here are five things to know about this groundbreaking show:
RENT paved the way for ticket lotteries!
Young producers Jeffrey Seller and Kevin McCollum established a first-come first-serve $20 ticket rush to help make the show more accessible to the young people for whom Jonathan Larson had written the show.
RENT won 4 Tony Awards AND a Pulitzer Prize.
In 1996, RENT was nominated for a whopping 10 Tony Awards and won four, including Best Musical. It was also nominated for 10 Drama Desk Awards and won five.
RENT was the first musical ever produced by New York Theatre Workshop.
The downtown staple has now produced numerous Tony-winning hits, from Once to Hadestown.
RENT‘s writer didn’t live to see the show on Broadway.
Jonathan Larson unexpectedly passed away from an aortic aneurysm the morning before RENT premiered off-Broadway in 1996.
RENT‘s original cast performed “Seasons of Love” for the DNC.
RENT’s original cast attended the Democratic National Convention in 1996. To put this in historical perspective, this was the same convention in which Hilary Clinton was filmed dancing “The Macarena.” In other words, it was arguably the best Democratic National Convention, well, ever.
Join us with Playbill tonight to hear from artists who brought this show to life on Broadway!