Wednesday, September 5, 2012

La Vie Boheme at BMFI: Seven Facts about RENT

By Dan Santelli, Programming Intern, BMFI

First staged in January 1996, Jonathan Larson’s groundbreaking rock opera Rent has established itself as a capstone of the modern musical. Earning three Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for its original stage production, Rent has taken on a life of its own in America’s pop culture and has garnered a massive cult following of devoted fans dubbed “Rent-heads”.

Now, Bryn Mawr Film Institute is proud to host a special sing-along screening of director Chris Columbus’ film adaptation of the Broadway show on Tuesday, September 11 at 7:30 pm. Free popcorn if you wear a costume!

"Would you light my candle?" Adam Pascal and Rosario Dawson in Chris Columbus's 2005 film adaptation of Rent.

Show off on Tuesday night with these seven trivia facts about Rent.

  1. Originally conceived by playwright Billy Aronson, Rent is a musical update of Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème. The title of Puccini’s opera is directly referenced in Rent’s signature song, La Vie Boheme. That’s why members of the prestigious Opera Company of Philadelphia will perform a number from their production of La bohème prior to Bryn Mawr Film Institute's screening.
  3. Lamentably, Rent’s creator Jonathan Larson passed away less than 24 hours before the premiere of his show in January 1996.
  5. Larson pulled from personal life experiences to create his characters. For example, Maureen dumps the central figure, Mark, for Joanne in Rent, which mirrored a real-life event where Larson’s girlfriend left him for a woman.
  7. With the exception of two principals, all the major performers in Columbus’ film are reprising the roles they played on stage.
    Take Angel's advice: Wear a costume to BMFI's Rent sing-along! 
  9. Despite capturing the look and feel of 1980s Greenwich Village, director Chris Columbus shot most of Rent on soundstages at Warner Bros. studios and select exteriors in San Francisco. Only one scene, which featured the La Vie Boheme number, was shot on location in New York City.
  11. Producer Robert De Niro sought to have his long-time friend and collaborator, Martin Scorsese, direct the adaptation. When Scorsese fell through, Columbus stepped in to helm the film.
  13. For casting the role of Maureen’s girlfriend, Joanne, director Columbus auditioned an array of talent from established stars to American Idol contestants. One of those Idol contestants was Jennifer Hudson, who ultimately lost the role to Tracie Thoms (Death Proof). Jennifer Hudson went on to portray Effie in Bill Condon’s screen adaptation of Dreamgirls (another Broadway sensation), for which she won her Oscar.

So what are you waiting for? Make a plan with your Rent-head friends, dress the parts (should you want free popcorn!), and warm up your vocal chords, as we celebrate the “Seasons of Love” at this unforgettable sing-along event.

The cast collectively sings "La Vie Boheme" in the famous Life Cafe in Greenwich Village.

Dan Santelli, BMFI's Programming Intern, is a 2012 graduate of Temple University with a Bachelor's degree in Film and Media Arts. A lifelong cineaste, his favorite films (in no particular order) include Leon: The Professional, The Night of the Hunter, Touch of Evil, Blue Velvet, Brazil, Apocalypse Now, Dressed To Kill (1980), Halloween, and Les Yeux Sans Visage.

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