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Original Broadway Cast - Rent [Original Broadway Cast Recording]

Number of Discs
Release Date
Original Broadway Cast
CD / Album
Label / Studio
Dreamworks / Dreamworks SKG

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Songwriter/librettist Jonathan Larson's musical Rent caused a considerable stir in the spring of 1996 -- a stir that included multiple Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for drama, and an open-ended run on Broadway -- because it succeeded in synthesizing a range of popular music styles while telling a story full of contemporary concerns including AIDS, drug abuse, homosexuality, and gentrification in witty, moving language. At the same time, it boasted traditional roots in the sense that it was based (very loosely) on the same source as Puccini's hundred-year-old opera La Bohème, Henri Murger's Scenes de la Vie de Bohème. In Larson's retelling, the story concerned a group of young people on the Lower East Side of Manhattan near the end of the 20th century, trying to make it as rock musicians, filmmakers, and performance artists while avoiding being evicted from the apartments in which they were squatting without paying rent (and while also not selling out). Larson, born in 1960, clearly had ingested the whole of post-Beatles pop/rock music along with an array of other musical styles including everything from traditional pop to hip-hop, and he mixed things up freely while holding the score together with some soaring melodies. The scourge of AIDS, and thus death among the young, hung over the show, which made Larson's own death (from an undetected aneurysm) on the night of the show's final dress rehearsal all the more poignant. For audiences, the carpe diem theme expressed in choruses like "no day but today" was inescapably linked to the tragic backstage story. But Rent still would have been a massive hit if Larson had lived; the only difference would have been that he might have had the opportunity to write more shows.

DreamWorks eschewed the usual Broadway practice of hauling the cast into a recording studio on the Sunday after the opening to record a cast album quickly. Instead, the label hired veteran producer Arif Mardin and prepared a thorough two-CD set that brought out the best in the score. Principals Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Idina Menzel all got the chance to immortalize their performances and made the most of it, and the extra length allowed for a full sense of the show's sweep on-stage. It was a sensible approach given that much of Rent was sung, right down to the answering machine messages, and that the songs were interwoven into suites, with musical themes returning frequently. The cast album did not appear until four months after the show opened on Broadway, but when it did, it proved worth the wait. (Concluding the album by having Stevie Wonder sing a version of the show's best-known song, "Seasons of Love," was not a wise decision, however.) ~ William Ruhlmann

Disc 1:
1) Rent, musical play~Tune Up #1 - (00:50)
2) Rent, musical play~Voice Mail #1 - (00:36)
3) Rent, musical play~Tune Up #2 - (01:32)
4) Rent, musical play~Rent - (04:25)
5) Rent, musical play~You Okay Honey? - (01:41)
6) Rent, musical play~Tune Up #3 - (00:24)
7) Rent, musical play~One Song Glory - (02:43)
8) Rent, musical play~Light My Candle - (04:05)
9) Rent, musical play~Voice Mail #2 - (00:46)
10) Rent, musical play~Today 4 U - (03:30)
11) Rent, musical play~You'll See - (02:57)
12) Rent, musical play~Tango: Maureen - (03:28)
13) Rent, musical play~Life Support - (01:58)
14) Rent, musical play~Out Tonight - (03:48)
15) Rent, musical play~Another Day - (04:44)
16) Rent, musical play~Will I? - (02:29)
17) Rent, musical play~On The Street - (01:32)
18) Rent, musical play~Santa Fe - (03:12)
19) Rent, musical play~I'll Cover You - (02:28)
20) Rent, musical play~We're Okay - (01:22)
21) Rent, musical play~Christmas Bells - (06:04)
22) Rent, musical play~Over The Moon - (05:16)
23) Rent, musical play~La Vie Boheme - (08:00)
24) Rent, musical play~I Should Tell You - (03:00)
25) Rent, musical play~La Vie Boheme B - (01:53)

Disc 2:
1) Rent, musical play~Seasons Of Love - (02:51)
2) Rent, musical play~Happy New Year - Fredi Walker / Idina Menzel / Adam Pascal / Anthony Rapp / Daphne Rubin-Vega (03:24)
3) Rent, musical play~Voice Mail #3 - Kristen Lee Kelly / Aiko Nakasone / Anthony Rapp (00:50)
4) Rent, musical play~Happy New Year B - Taye Diggs / Jesse L. Martin / Idina Menzel / Adam Pascal / Anthony Rapp (03:56)
5) Rent, musical play~Take Me Or Leave Me - Fredi Walker / Idina Menzel / Anthony Rapp (03:43)
6) Rent, musical play~Seasons Of Love B - (01:06)
7) Rent, musical play~Without You - Adam Pascal / Daphne Rubin-Vega (04:21)
8) Rent, musical play~Voice Mail #4 - Aiko Nakasone (00:32)
9) Rent, musical play~Contact - Wilson Jermaine Heredia / Jesse L. Martin / Idina Menzel / Daphne Rubin-Vega (02:07)
10) Rent, musical play~I'll Cover You-Reprise - Jesse L. Martin (02:50)
11) Rent, musical play~Halloween - Anthony Rapp (01:48)
12) Rent, musical play~Goodbye Love - Taye Diggs / Idina Menzel / Adam Pascal / Anthony Rapp / Daphne Rubin-Vega (05:57)
13) Rent, musical play~What You Own - Adam Pascal / Anthony Rapp (03:56)
14) Rent, musical play~Voice Mail #5 - Kristen Lee Kelly / Aiko Nakasone / Byron Utley (00:57)
15) Rent, musical play~Finale - Fredi Walker / Jesse L. Martin / Idina Menzel / Adam Pascal / Anthony Rapp (05:30)
16) Rent, musical play~Your Eyes - Adam Pascal (02:20)
17) Rent, musical play~Finale B - Fredi Walker / Jesse L. Martin / Adam Pascal / Anthony Rapp / Daphne Rubin-Vega (02:59)
18) Rent, musical play~Seasons Of Love - Cast / Stevie Wonder (04:26)

Rent [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
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Rent [Original Broadway Cast Recording] | Original Broadway Cast