Three original cast members of RENT joined Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley for a special episode of Stars in the House.
Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, and Daphne Rubin-Vega reminisced on the groundbreaking show’s legacy and how it changed their lives.
RENT is a rock musical created by Jonathan Larson, loosely based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème. The show centers on a group of struggling young artists living in Lower Manhattan’s East Village and living with the shadow of HIV/AIDS.
RENT opened on Broadway in 1996 and went on to gain critical acclaim, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Musical. The musical was adapted into a film in 2005 where both Rapp and Pascal reprised their stage roles.
The three stars shared stories about auditioning for the show, the transition from Off-Broadway to Broadway, and their most memorable moments during the show’s run. They also discussed the impact of Jonathan Larson’s death on the show and how audiences learned to love Rent for what it was and not only because of its creator’s tragic demise.
Rapp, who played Mark, said he sang REM’s “Losing My Religion” for his audition and even though he forgot the lyrics, he still got the part. He mentioned that performing “La Vie Boheme” was one of the biggest physical challenges of performing the show.
Pascal, who played Roger, talked about growing up with Idina Menzel (who played Maureen on the show), attending theater camp as a child, and being a fan of musical movies like Hair, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Grease. He also shared the hilarious story behind the blocking of “One Song Glory” which involved him sitting on a table so he could read “hidden” index cards with the lyrics of the song.
Rubin-Vega, who played Mimi, talked about the solid camaraderie among the cast members, and the challenges of performing “Out Tonight” until “Another Day.” She also acknowledged the historical significance of her role in RENT in promoting diversity in Broadway, having been a leading lady of color at a time when this was rare.
In between anecdotes, Rudetsky shared clips of different iconic songs from the show such as “La Vie Boheme,” “Rent,” “Light My Candle,” and “What You Own.” Rapp also performed “The Kite” from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, another musical he starred in while Pascal gave a special rendition of “No Day But Today.”
Stars in the House is a series of daily livestreamed concerts and conversations with Broadway stars hosted by Rudetsky and Wesley as a regular fundraiser for The Actors Fund. Each episode is a combination of music, community, and education, the last part featuring consultations with CBS Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook. The series was launched in March and will continue until Broadway reopens. As of August 8, Stars in the House has raised over $ 422,000 for The Actors Fund.
Watch the whole reunion below: