.’Rent’ pays off | PostIndependent.com

.’Rent’ pays off

Kimberly Nicoletti
Summit Correspondent

“Rent” depicts a universal and timeless theme: Living to the fullest ” now. It drives the message home clearly and, of course, musically.

Musicals, especially ones transformed into movies, can be a dicey proposition. You have to be in the mood to watch urbanites flitting through the streets, singing about their “baggage.”

The first time I saw a musical on film, my brain flip-flopped. I grew up listening to my mom blast “West Side Story” through our house, with a role-reversal that caused me to yell, “Turn that music down.”

Still, the tunes grew on me, and by age 10, I was covertly borrowing her Kool cigarettes to use as a prop as I danced and pretended I was a Jet. But then I saw the gang members in the movie, and my respect for the Jets came to a crashing halt as they leapt and twirled through the streets. Luckily, the shock of musicals came at an early age, and by the time “Grease” debuted, I was all over it. So, when “Rent” rocked its way into the theater, I had no problems.

Well, except with Maureen’s (Idina Menzel) solo performance piece. I felt Dan’s pain on that one.

But overall, “Rent” accomplished what any good musical should: Blend story, character and song into a grand portrait of life. It should make you want to dance in the aisles, infatuated with the love of life and make you cry at life’s heartbreaking moments.

OK, so maybe I’m being an overly emotional chick. But “Rent” ” and its vivid characters ” did that to me. It made me re-experience those magical times with groups of friends. It made me feel sad at loss. And it made me want to live life to the fullest, because life is short, with or without AIDS.

Yes, people like Dan can argue that if “Rent” had come out as a movie in the early 1990s, it could have packed more of an emotional punch, but the bottom line is: You either buy it as a musical or you don’t. No amount of timeliness is going to help the fact that they sing, rather than talk, about shooting up.

And when the music is as rousing as the tunes in “Rent,” I say, ‘Why not sing your lines?’ In fact, people might just get a new lease on life if they started singing more and talking less.

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