I’ve been a lover of the theater all my life and performed in community theater in both Chicago and Minneapolis. There’s nothing like the organic energy and communication that space provides.
When I was lucky enough to be in the audience for the Chicago Tour of Rent in 1997 and heard the power and beauty of the song “Seasons of Love“, hairs stood up all over my body and hit me with such a force I found it hard to stop crying, The song affirms what I believe, the concept that one should measure life “in Love”. Since I was a child I’ve always imagined a world where Love is the dominant force, overtaking the hate which unfortunately continues to live in the world.
Take a listen and see if you agree … we should measure life “in Love”.
RENT is a rock musical with music, lyrics, and book by Jonathan Larson, loosely based on Giacomo Puccini‘s operaLa Bohème. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in Lower Manhattan’s East Village in the thriving days of bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.
I remember hearing the word about Jonathan Larson having died. No!!! right before the1996 off-Broadway opening. I was rehearsing for a benefit show for HIV/AIDS and the number we were singing was “La Vie Boheme” from Rent. We all just sat down and reflected on how important and revolutionary Rent was. Instead of treating those who unfortunately contracted the virus as lepers, give them the dignity and compassion they deserve as a fellow human being – measure life “in Love”.
(Rent sweeping the Tony Awards 1996)
The musical was first seen in a workshop production at New York Theatre Workshop in 1993. This same Off-Broadway theatre was also the musical’s initial home following its official 1996 opening. The show’s creator, Jonathan Larson, died suddenly of an aortic dissection, believed to have been caused by undiagnosed Marfan syndrome, the night before the Off-Broadway premiere. The musical moved to Broadway’s larger Nederlander Theatre on April 29, 1996.
On Broadway, Rent gained critical acclaim and won several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Musical. The Broadway production closed on September 7, 2008, after 12 years, making it one of the longest-running shows on Broadway. The production grossed over $280 million.
The success of the show led to several national tours and numerous foreign productions. In 2005, it was adapted into a motion picture featuring most of the original cast members.
As we #StayTogetherHome, let’s remember to love one another by #Social Distancing, washing our hands, and as in the impactful words of Jonathan Larson – “measure life “in Love”.
This new year I’m starting out with a series of tributes to my favorite “girls rock” musical numbers from films with dynamic female leads.
This post is my salute to Diane Lane (Ellen Aim) and to one of the great bass thumping, energy boosting, heart-stirring numbers I love from the 80’s. (Giving credit where credit is due, those incredible vocals were performed by Holly Sherwood; another unsung, backup hero.)
My emotional connection to this song has not diminished. It’s still as powerful and meaningful to me as when I first embraced it over 20 years ago. Penning this post was difficult but also cathartic. To write this piece from truth, I had to acknowledge my own struggle to reconcile the ideal with the real. My vision of myself as the rebel, the dreamer and the one determined to not look back with regret.
“Tonight is What it Means to be Young” amplifies those feelings of that perfect love, staying true to one’s self, and the reality of having to let go.
This driving beat is palpable. It’s a CPR pumping of blood sent to both quicken and relieve the relentless pain Ellen Aim is feeling after losing the love of her life; the embodiment of her dream of an “angel.”
Rockin’ that hot red dress, she channels acceptance and remembrance of another time and another place of youth and the promise of love.
I’ve got a dream when the darkness is over We’ll be lyin’ in the rays of the sun But it’s only a dream and tonight is for real You’ll never know what it means But you’ll know how it feels
It’s gonna be over Before you know it’s begun It’s all we really got tonight Tonight is what it means to be young Tonight is what it means to be young