Friday, 24 August 2007

Today 4 U Tomorrow 4 Me - 24/8/07

Since I first heard the CD of Rent it has always been a favourite of mine. I even went to an open audition for the original London production believe it or not! I suspect the show itself needs little introduction to you but, for the uninitiated, I present a brief summing up. Basically the story updates La Boheme which told the tale of a group of “artists” as their dealt with the traumas of love, poverty, and disease. Rent relocates the story to late twentieth century Greenwich Village, making some of the story’s couples same sex, and throwing in modern issues such as HIV and drugs. Sadly the shows writer Jonathan Larson died before the official Broadway opening in 1996 (tragically dying of an aortic aneurism during the preview period) so he was not to see the amazing success the show had. It became the show to see, and is still running in New York today where original cast members Adam Pascal and Antony Rapp have recently returned to the roles of Roger and Mark. The show was to prove less successful in London where it initially ran for about 18 months and returned for a short season a couple of years later. However Rent is on its way back.

This time round we are expecting big changes. Due to the early death of Larson very few changes were made during the preview period and subsequent production. Under the helm of (Kylie chum) William Baker we are promised a new look at the piece and (if rumours are correct) it’s relocation to London. I am very intrigued about this as it really is a quintessentially New York piece. However I thought it might be fun to take a (hopefully) humorous look at how the show could be adapted to contemporary London and tackle some of it’s issues.

The story begins on Christmas eve where out of work performers Roger and Mark are working in a call centre selling theatre tickets, worried about how they will pay their rent. They return to their bed sit and wait for their friend Tom Collins. However Collins’ is mugged before he can get to them. Luckily for him a stranger comes to his aid in the guise of Angel – a Kylie Minogue impersonator. Roger is trying to download one great song to his ipod when he is disturbed by a knock on the door. It’s Mimi a teenage lap dancer from Spearmint Rhino, who needs her candle lit to cope with the power cut they are experiencing. Mimi, flirtaciously, is thankful that they at least have the moonlight. Roger suggests it’s not the moon at all “I hear Eastenders is shooting down the street”. Roger manages to get rid of Mimi, and after Mark returns Collins joins them along with Angel who then proceeds to re-enact the video for Can’t Get You Out Of My Head. Mark then finds himself called to the aid of Joanne, current girlfriend of his ex girlfriend Maureen. As he assists her in fixing the PA for Maureen’s performance later that night they argue to a big dance number – The Agadoo Maureen. Meanwhile Mimi attempts to persuade Roger to join her as she gets ready to go Out Tonight to G.A.Y. After he puts her off until Another Day the action segues to a VOTFLSG (Victims of Transport For London Support Group) meeting where the members lament “Will I lose my oyster card, will someone care?”. Collins, Roger and Mark then dream of what they would like to do in the future as they sing “We’ll Open Up a Kebab Shop In Basingstoke”. As the preparations continue for Maureen’s show Collins and Angel declare their love. The scene changes to Oxford Street where a group of hectic Christmas shoppers berate the lack of choice in Marks And Spencer as it begins to snow. So we go to Maureen’s performance. Of course this being London it’s not performance art but it’s a one woman tribute to the songs of Jason Robert Brown. Elated after the performance the cast retire to a local eatery where they celebrate La Vie Boheme and all it’s cultural icons…… “J.K.Rowling, Posh and Beckham too, Jade Goody, me and me, and you and Gee Foo!” Amidst all this cacophony Roger and Mimi share a tender moment when they realise they are both suffering from attention deficit disorder. So ends the first act.

The second act sees great changes in the relationships between the group. Mark had been spotted tap dancing at Maureen’s show and so “sells out” and accepts a job as a hobbit in Lord Of The Rings. Roger and Mimi’s relationship breaks down as they fail to pay each other enough attention and even Maureen and Joanne have problems when they realise that Maureen’s love of show tunes clashes with Joanne’s football fandom. All of their bickering is brought down to earth by the shock death of Angel after a fatal clash with a Britney Spears tribute act. However Angels funeral only temporary calms them all down until they all end up having another big argument. As the show proceeds to its finale Roger returns from a fortnight’s boating on the Norfolk Broads and joins Mark in a rousing song “When you’re living in Kennington, seven years in the millennium”. Mark is sufficiently roused to turn down the hobbit job – particularly when he reads about a new reality TV show to find the next Cornelius Hackle in Hello Dolly- and Roger returns to the difficult task of finding one great song for his ipod. As the show heads to a close Mimi’s attention has wandered to such a point that, after going missing, she is found doing a circuit of the circle line with a carrier bag full of red bull and a heat magazine with Big Brother’s Charley on the cover – having failed to notice her stop. Joanne and Maureen rescue her and take her to Mark and Rogers bed sit where, gasping for breath, she comes round from her trance saying, “I was in a tunnel, heading for Oxford Circus, And I swear Angel was there and she looked like Dannii, and she said turn around girlfriend and go and listen to Roger’s Ipod”. So our couples are reunited and agree that life goes on and there is “no day but today………” And there we have it!

Of course it’s highly unlikely that any of my suggestions for the adaptation will be taken on board. Come on let’s be honest you have just read a rather large amount of preposterous nonsense and I really wouldn’t like to take anything away from this show that deals with so many important issues, albeit in a fairy tale like way. I am sure that, whatever decisions it’s director makes, this new production of a modern classis will be very interesting with much to enjoy. If you haven’t seen Rent before then definitely try and give it a go this time round! If only to find out what really happens. I am sure you will love it!

Well you have two English language recordings to try, the Broadway original or the soundtrack. Both are great and the principal cast is almost identical. The only real difference is that the movie soundtrack doesn’t have quite all the songs, but the ones that aren’t included are rather superfluous excluding many of the brief phone calls set to music etc that can prove rather grating. Also the movie soundtrack includes a new song – “Love Heals”. The movie itself is great, and I feel improves on the show anyway.

In Closing
No room at the Holiday Inn
Did you go to the cat scratch club?
In a thousand sweet kisses I’ll cover you

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