Musical theatre fans just keep getting more reasons to celebrate Jonathan Larson. In the past few years, none other than Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda took one of the composer, lyricist and playwright’s works and turned it into a movie. After tick, tick…BOOM! hit screens, a stage production toured Australia as well. Next, Aussie audiences can catch the show that made him an icon: Rent. In 2024, it too will do the rounds Down Under, kicking off in Brisbane in January.
Larson created and composed the smash-hit production. Also, his Rent journey comes with quite the heartbreaking behind-the-scenes story. In the 90s, Larson passed away at the age of 35 on the day that that now-huge show premiered its first off-Broadway preview performance. So, he didn’t get to see the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning phenomenon that it would become.
Plenty of other people have — when it first hit Broadway, Rent ran for 12 years, making it one of the famed theatre district’s longest-running shows. And among those prizes is the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer for Drama, all for a tale about seizing the moment, facing adversity and finding one’s community.
Loosely based on Puccini’s La Boheme, and written to include real-life locations and events, the rock musical will bring tunes including ‘Seasons of Love’, ‘Take Me or Leave Me’ and ‘La Vie Bohème’ to Brisbane’s QPAC Playhouse, then head to Arts Centre Melbourne, the Civic Theatre in Newcastle, Perth’s His Majesty’s Theatre and Canberra Theatre.
If you need a refresher on the story — or you’re coming to Rent for the first time, having missed past performances and the 2005 film version — then prepare to step back to New York in 1991. Over the course of the year, as their neighbourhood is being gentrified and HIV/AIDS casts a shadow, a group of friends chase their dreams and strive for their place in the world.
“With Rent, Jonathan Larson unleashed a phenomenon — it would be difficult to find someone who hasn’t at least heard of it. Rent is the musical of the 1990s and the early-aughts but it has proved itself timeless,” said producer Lauren Peters, announcing the new Aussie run.
“The characters who live in the East Village of 1990s New York navigate that which resonates so deeply with us in Australia in 2024: cost-of-living pressures, the threat of preventable disease, the subtle feeling that all the ways in which we can now communicate belie our disconnection.”
“And all of this sounds terribly heavy but Rent somehow takes all this and turns it into a joyous celebration of connection, chosen family and life itself — and it’s that joy in the face of all of life’s adversity and opportunity that is perhaps best captured in its iconic number Seasons of Love, a song which has achieved the rarest of Broadway feats and transcended the show for which it was written,” Peters continued.
RENT AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2024:
Saturday, January 27–Sunday, February 11 — Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane
Saturday, February 17—Thursday, March 7 — Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne
Friday, March 15–Sunday, March 17 — Civic Theatre, Newcastle
Saturday, May 11–Sunday, May 26 — His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth
Saturday, June 7–Sunday, June 16 — Canberra Theatre, Canberra
Rent will tour Australia in 2024 — head to the musical’s website for further details and to sign up for the ticket waitlist, with Melbourne pre-sale tickets available from Monday, September 25 and Brisbane pre-sale tickets available from Tuesday, October 3.
Top image: Team Dustizeff via Wikimedia Commons.