RENT – it's a play, it's a movie, it's play, it's a movie, it's a play, it's… oh, my head just exploded…

by Megan Mooney

When I was in university RENT was hot shit.  I mean, some people loved it, some people hated it, but it was actually talked about.

Then it was mostly forgotten (at least by me) until 2004 when it was parodied in Team America: World Police with the musical number “Everybody has AIDS”.  Then, perhaps riding the wave of new recognition through Team America (although, really likely not) it was made into a movie, in 2005, which seems all the rage this decade (Chicago, Hairspray, Mamma Mia pop to mind.  Evita was a bit ahead of the curve, doing the mega-musical as a movie thing in 1996).

During this whole time, RENT continued to run on Broadway, in fact, it’s been running on Broadway for more than 12 years.  So, you know, it’s pretty popular.  But now, the play, cum movie is a play again, but in a movie theatre.

In the spirit of going out with a bang, after RENT closes on September 7, there will be broadcasts of the production on movie screens near you September 24th to 28th.

Now, for a while now you’ve been able to see operas from the Met simul-cast to movie theatres across Canada (and presumably the states).  But as far as I know, this is the first showing of a play on the big screen (not to be confused with a movie based on a play).

I’m going to try and make my way to a performance to see what it feels like to see a play in a movie theatre.  It’s an interesting mix of genres, and I’m curious to see the make-up of the audience.

Oh, and don’t think this marks the demise of RENT, it will be going on tour in 2009, although there don’t seem to be any Canadian dates announced yet.

I’m curious though – what do you think about the idea of a play on a stage.  I know this isn’t the type of theatre we usually talk about here, and I know there are a lot of people who don’t really consider mega-musicals ‘real’ theatre, but I do.  I consider a lot of stuff ‘real’ theatre.  Buskerfest was ‘real’ theatre to me, and crowd-pleasing shows are too. 

So, thoughts?  An idea what kind of a response they might get to this?  And will it be fans of the movie who will go, people who have always wanted to go to the play but haven’t been able to, people who want to expose their kids to theatre, but can’t afford the ticket prices of going to a Mirvish show (and don’t realise that there are other affordable options, and maybe think they can only enjoy mega-musicals), or just people who are curious about what a play in a movie theatre feels like?

I don’t know, the whole thing just intrigues me.