The second time I saw Rent was a few months later. On Broadway.
I don’t remember a lot of specifics from that performance. I was there as part of an NYU group again, although we had paid for tickets this time (probably through a steep Ticket Central discount). I don’t remember who I was with–my roommate Jed, maybe? We sat in the last row of the theater. The stories were further away, distanced–yes, we were physically distanced from the performers, but also there was a disconnect from what was happening onstage. The show was swallowed up in that big space. It no longer felt like something I had ownership over–it was this big pop culture beast now, this phenomenon, and everyone was getting to participate it…and to make matters worse, I was as far away from the action as one could possibly be.
It was probably during this performance that I really started to see the major flaws in the piece, especially in the second act. The first show had swept me up in the euporhoria of it all–the last 30 minutes or so could coast on what had come before. This time though, with the distance and the new crowd, there wasn’t a huge wave to coast on. The show was still damn good, especially in the spots that worked, but the overall effect was less than expected. I started to doubt the show. I wondered if maybe I had been unfairly caught up in the emotion at NYTW. Maybe the show wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
I don’t remember if I purchased the cast album before or after seeing the Broadway production, but the cast album is certainly my freshest memory of the show–I imagine it’s most people’s freshest memory. It’s a great damn CD. I lost it in one of my many moves, although it might still be at my parents’ place somewhere. I’m pretty sure the CD is what kept me connected to the idea of that show, kept the memory of that magical first time alive. Even with the CD, my memory was kind of shaken. I’d recommend the show to friends wholeheartedly, but I harped a little more on what was wrong. I think the magic slipped out of my mind a bit.
And then…the movie.