Musicals and Their Times Draft One

Musicals and Their - Tamar Godel In the summer of 1992 a man named Jonathan Larson bicycled by the New York Theatre Workshop in the East Village in

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Tamar Godel In the summer of 1992, a man named Jonathan Larson bicycled by the New York Theatre Workshop in the East Village in NYC. He stuck his head in, liked what he saw, and dropped off a tape of songs the next day (Kroll, 58). Larson was a man living in Manhattan in the late 1980s and 1990s. He had friends who died of AIDS, he had gay friends, and he put them all into his music. Thus Rent was born. Rent is a musical which has touched millions of people in its short life. To have touched so many in such a short time, there must be something there. Some little spark, some underlying idea, that connects with people. Rent is based around the lives of eight friends in New York City at the end of the Twentieth Century. Our first character is Mark Cohen, our narrator and a filmmaker. Next comes Roger, a guitarist and Mark's longtime friend and roommate. Roger's girlfriend has recently committed suicide after learning she had AIDS. Tom Collins, known as Collins to his friends, is their sometimes roommate, and an intellectual college professor. Mimi is their downstairs neighbor, and a dancer at the Cat Scratch Club. Maureen, Mark's ex-girlfriend, is a protest artist. Joanne, Maureen's girlfriend, is a lawyer. Benjamin Coffin III (Benny) used to live with Roger, Collins and Mark, but has moved out and up to own the entire building. Angel, our last character, is a street performer born a man and living as a woman. So much of Rent is truly revolutionary. Never before had AIDS been discussed in musical theater. Never before had so many characters – more than half – been gay. Never before had drugs and their effects played such a huge role. This was a pure nineties musical. This is to be expected, because for the most part, the theme of a musical is an indicator of cultural thought at the time it first came out. Avenue Q would never have been picked up in 1950. Hairspray would not have been welcome in the 1960s. Conversely, as a new musical, Flower Drum Song would be a terrible flop today, as
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course ENGLISH 1002 taught by Professor White during the Fall '08 term at Temple.

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Musicals and Their - Tamar Godel In the summer of 1992 a man named Jonathan Larson bicycled by the New York Theatre Workshop in the East Village in

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