USA - On January 25, 1996 we lost the iconic Jonathan Larson. It has been seventeen years since the passing of Jonathan Larson. The creator of Rent had no idea he was about to leave the globe with a Broadway hit musical that would inspire us all for eternity. Broadway Global shares a few exclusive Rent cast pictures and a few messages from the original cast, as we honor the man who changed the way we all look at AIDS today.
The first time I saw Rent, I remember hearing Neil Patrick Harris' understudy Curt Skinner singing the lyrics that stay with me everyday of my gifted life. Curt Skinner is one of my dearest friends today. We performed together working with Wayne Cilento Tony Award winning choreographer of Tommy, also known for his choreography in Wicked. Curt Skinner and I also starred in Disney's first production of Aladdin. I will never forget hearing Curt sing in Rent "will I lose my dignity, will someone care, will I wake tomorrow from this nightmare" the song was also sung with Andy Señor Jr. who is known for his amazing performance as Angel in Rent.
The tears streamed down my face knowing AIDS took my first partner Robert Andolini Kent, everyone I knew at the age of 18, 19, and I would sure be next. I did not want the virus to strip me of walking, eating or breathing. I knew the chance of living was impossible odds.
That was thirty years ago today. I still cry every time I hear "will I lose my dignity, will someone care, will I wake tomorrow from this nightmare". It wasn't my time. Rent inspired me to fight, live, work as a Cruise Director, travel the world and create www.TheatreCha.net, www.BroadwayGlobal.org sharing the arts through life changing plays like Jonathan Larson's rock musical Rent. Now at 49 I have lived that nightmare, but lived to see changes in new medication, HIV awareness and to witness Rent from countless Broadway productions to the most recent explosive off-Broadway production of Rent starring one of my dearest friends Shaleah Adkisson. (Broadway cast of Hair, Rent).
The Character Mark who sings the stunning lyrics (will I lose my dignity, will someone care, will I wake tomorrow from this nightmare) is one of the smaller roles in the show, but their are no small roles. That role and these lyrics haunt me everyday! My Mother was moved by her boss to San Francisco from Springville, Utah in my last few months of High School. Having the credits I needed, I graduated early from Springville High School in 1982 and moved to San Francisco. I can honestly say I have not one person left in my life from those horrific times. We lost everyone! The gay community was dropping like flies. We did not know what was causing this tragic illness, stripping everyone it infected of their dignity rapidly.
"With this work I celebrate my friends and the many others who continue to fulfill their dreams and to live their lives in the shadow of AIDS. In these dangerous times, where it seems the world is ripping apart at the seams, we can all learn how to survive from those who stare death squarely in the face every day, and we should reach out to each other and bond as a community, rather than hide from the terrors of life at the end of the millennium." - Jonathan Larson.
The Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation was a foundation started in 1997 by family and friends of Jonathan Larson, composer of the musical Rent. From 1997 to 2008, the foundation awarded grants to musical theatre composers, lyricists and book writers. Following the 2008 grants, the program was shifted to the American Theatre Wing, where it continues as the Jonathan Larson Grants.
Rodney Hicks from the original Broadway cast of Rent, "Hi Richard you can steal my status for the quote. Thanks for this! Wow. Seventeen years ago today Jonathan Larson's RENT opened Off Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop. It was a time working with some very special people whom I will never forget and what would become the beginning of a beautiful journey of connection. Today is not only for Jonathan and those of us who were there at the beginning - be it our cast, the creative team, stage management team, crew, musicians, everyone at NYTW, the audiences, family, and very special friends -but to EVERYONE who has ever done a production of RENT and all of the friends that were made, relationships formed, marriages and yes even babies that came from being a part of this amazing piece of theatre. I can say that this show has truly changed us ALL for the better and instead of Six degrees of Kevin Bacon there should be a Six Degrees of RENT because it seems like a lot of us are connected because of what opened Off Broadway seventeen years ago today. Thank you Jonathan Larson. Viva La Vie Boheme!"
My brother and father's name is Al. So many things hit very close to home with Jonathan Larson, his life, his family and his story of Rent. Please listen to Al Larson in this interview shared with Rent fans. Today we honor Jonathan Larson. Although his life was not taken from AIDS, through an award winning musical Rent which officially opened on January 25, 1996 today January 25, we can remember the billions we have lost to AIDS. Please visit The NAMES Project at www.aidsquilt.org.
The mission of The NAMES Project Foundation is to preserve, care for and use The AIDS Memorial Quilt to foster healing, heighten awareness, and inspire action in the age of AIDS. Although my Birthday falls on December 1, World AIDS Day today and everyday we must remember those we have lost. www.worldaidsday.org.
Remember and share this article link on your facebook wall in honor of Rent and live your life today. "NO DAY BUT TODAY" Jonathan Larson.