I should have seen it coming. I should have realized 6 years ago, the first time I saw Rent, that it could become a problem. At that first showing, I used up two packages of tissues and was the first one standing and clapping… after each song. I also should have recognized my growing problem when I stood outside waiting for Wal-Mart to open the day the movie came out, but in all fairness, I’ve heard of hundreds of Harry Potter fans doing the same thing. They deceived me into thinking this was acceptable behavior.
Yesterday, I went to see Rent with Katie at the Colonial Theatre in Boston. Like I said, I discovered Rent about 6 years ago, and yesterday was my 5th time seeing it in the theatre. But yesterday was much different than the other times. Yesterday was absolutely epic, because we saw the Broadway Across America tour, featuring two of the original cast members, Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp. These two amazing performers also reprised their roles in the movie, and honestly invented the roles of Roger Davis and Mark Cohen. Roger is my absolute favorite character in Rent, and it was amazing to see Adam, the original Roger, singing these incredible songs I’ve listened to in my iPod for years. One guitar strum into One Song Glory and I was openly weeping.
The reason I love Rent is so much is the incredibly simple message it sends: no day but today. Four words sum up an unbelievably emotional story of 8 characters living with poverty and disease and in total despair, and they remind us that life is short. We can’t dwell on the past, and we can’t count on tomorrow. All we have is the present, and our lives should be measured in the love we share with our friends and family. We should always be grateful for what we have, but know that it can be fleeting, and so you must treasure every moment and live your life with no regrets. What makes the message even more incredible is that Jonathan Larson, the man who wrote this masterpiece, died unexpectedly the night of the final dress rehearsal at the age of 36. He never got to see Rent become a Broadway hit, and he never got to see the way that millions of fans responded to it. Every time I see Rent, my problems become smaller, my heart becomes bigger, and I’m reminded of how lucky I am.
So that’s my excuse. That, combined with Adam and Anthony blowing my mind with their amazing performances, lead to the absolutely insane behavior some may have witnessed at the merchandise table yesterday. I was like one of those crazed women at a sample sale, ripping things out of other people’s hands and yelling at the vendor what I wanted, when he was 2 feet in front of me. In the end, I ended up with a long-sleeved shirt, a poster, a keychain, a mug (which is already at work serving as a pen holder), a zip-up sweatshirt, a bag (I know, seriously, I know.... what am I going to do with a Rent bag?!?!?) Anthony Rapp’s memoir “Without You” and a DVD of the last taping of the show before they took it from Broadway forever. When I got back to my seat, Katie asked what I had gotten. I told her “Just a keychain” and held it up for proof. She eyed my bag suspiciously. “Oh, and a poster. No big deal.” I thank God she doesn’t have internet and will never see this post.
I emptied my bag this morning and stared at my loot. Oh. My. God. I thought. What is wrong with me? I stared at the charge slip and almost fell off my chair. That’s when I finally came to terms with my addiction, and I’ve heard admitting that you have a problem is the first step. So here it is, everyone: “My name is Alanna Scully, and I am a RENThead.”
I can just hear the thousands of fellow RENTheads in my ear: “Hi Alanna.”