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In the more than 20 years since Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” first debuted on Broadway, the conversation of adaptation has often come up: Film director Chris Columbus infamously brought the story to the big screen in 2005, Michael John Warren similarly shot one of the final performances of the original theater run in 2008, and talk about television wasn’t far behind. But in order for Larson’s family to feel ready to bring the project to a new medium, it had to be a combination of “the right timing [and] the right people,” says Julie Larson. Enter prolific producers such as Marc Platt, the show’s original director Michael Greif and the Fox network, and “Rent” is seeing a new life in the form of a live television musical on Jan. 27.
“What I see ‘Rent’ as is a throwback and a leap forward at the same time,” says executive producer Adam Siegel. “That mix is everything — that tension between what has been done and what we can do.”
Rent - Inspiration - Giacomo - Puccini - La
“Rent” found inspiration in Giacomo Puccini’s “La Boheme” but, in Larson’s version, became a modernized, edgier, more rock-style story about young artists living with HIV in the East Village in the early 1990s. Starting as a staged reading in 1993 before moving to Broadway just three years later, the emphasis was on the characters and the story, illuminating themes of love and passion, sexual freedom, identity, art and personal fulfillment.
“‘Rent’ was written by this young man who believed in true love, standing for what you believed in [and] that art was more important than anything else — all of these things that at some point in our lives we all believed too,” Siegel says. “For a young person it ignites that part of you, and for an older person it wakes up that part of...
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