Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Rent Review



About 5 weeks ago, we saw the first commercials for 'Rent' the movie and immediately I called up my friend, Abey-Baby to go see it.

You have to understand, Abey-Baby and I are HUGE Rent fans, us having seen the theatre production three times in San Francisco and him seeing it two or three more times on Broadway. Yes, as I mentioned before, I'm a fag hag in drag and I love Broadway musicals. And Abey-Baby is the "fag" I go see plays with. So I contacted him and his husband and made a date for the day after thanksgiving.

The thing you have to understand about seeing theatre productions instead of movies is, all your memories come from the soundtrack and when you have a cast like Rent's, they're all over the stage and therefore, sometimes you have no idea who is singing what.

To me, that was the biggest thing about the movie. It clarified for me, especially at the beginning, who was singing what.

*SPOILERS*

At last count, Abey-Baby and I came up with 3 songs that was dropped from the movie. One happened to be one of my favorites, the Christmas Drug song is what I call it. Another was the fight between Roger and Mark towards the end. Off hand, I can't remember what the third song was, but OH! I remember now. It was the "hot hot, sex sex" song, which was okay cause I realized that in the play, it was one of those filler songs so the set/cast can change.

Oh, and don't believe the reviews that tell you over 30 minutes of dialogue was added. Those people apparently never paid attention to the play. In the play, the dialogue was sung. In the movie, most of the spoken dialogue was sung during the play. There IS however, one scene that was added and I agree with the director that it helped place the song in context... and that's the lesbian commitment ceremony. (THAT dialogue was indeed added). In the play, the song just sort of was inserted in the middle of a bunch of sets.

Actors:
I HEARTILY approve of Taye Diggs as Benny. In all three productions I saw, I HATED Benny. Benny had no redeeming qualities whatsoever, yet Taye Diggs managed to make Benny likable, especially in the very first scene he was in . Finally, I could see how Benny could live in that loft, and then drive a range rover.

Jesse L. Martin - one of three guys I would actually consider sleeping with. Consider! Not actually do it. Man, he was JUST great as Tom Collins. My two favorite scenes are with him and Angel.

Wilson Jermaine Heredia - The original Angel! I got to see Wilson twice in San Francisco and to me, there is no other Angel. The second I saw him/her on the screen, my eyes welled up with tears.

Tracie Thomas - Okay, I just love Joann. During the song "Take Me for Who I Am," I kept thinking, oh yeah, I'll take you, just sing to me.

What impressed me about the movie:
Well, actually, this is more a testament to Jonathan Larson's ability to put natural sounding dialogue into song. Earlier, I talked about how the so-called added dialogue was in reality, lyrics that were said instead of sung. Well, what totally impressed me was how well the dialogue worked without rhythm behind it, though in my head, I was totally singing the dialogue.

Another thing that impressed me how well the visual juxtaposition between scenes in New York and scenes in Sante Fe worked. But apparently it was only me. Bratworse never noticed how drab and urbane Sante Fe looked visually (with all the pasty white fat tourists in the background) as opposed to the vibrancy and liveliness of multi-cultural New York.

What I was disappointed in:
One of my all-time favorite songs in the play was "Light My Candle." In the play, there was a bit of innocent playfulness in the singing of the song. In the movie, the song turned into pure seduction. I understand the reason behind the change - it's more in character for Roger not to be portrayed as innocent or playful. I got to see the original Mimi and to me, she encapsulated the character. Rosario Dawson is a tad too reminiscent of Irene Cara for me, and though she did a MUCH better job than the third Mimi I saw on stage (who had turned the char. into an unconvincing show girl like person - when she tapped her arm to find a vein, it was like ho-hum, tap tap tap which made me laugh out loud in the theatre), she wasn't Mimi.

The other production I was disappointed in was, "Today for you, Tomorrow for me." Angel in the production, had very little stage space to work with, and it just seemed so much more exciting, real, in the moment. The movie version seemed, well, staged.

Overall, I liked the movie version, but I think I will continue to listen to the original broadway soundtrack. After all, I still get Taye Diggs, Jesse L. Martin and Wilson Jermaine Heredia singing on there.

Oh, as for Mark Cohen, you know, for a jewish boy from Scarsdale, he looks awfully waspy.

And Maureen? I just loved the 2nd Maureen I got to see on stage. This one was just.... too in your face.

 
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1 Response to "Rent Review"
  1. Igford said...
    3:20 PM

    I liked your synopsis of Rent. However, I think I'd rather own.

 

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