Rent

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
The original Broadway cast in its full, GLBT-riffic glory.

Five-hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
five-hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear,
five-hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
how do you measure, measure a year?

A modern-day Rock Opera adaptation of Puccini's La Boheme, written by Johnathan Larson (who died before the show was staged), RENT centers around a group of New York bohemians in the early nineties, including:

  • Mark Cohen: A film maker. He is Maureen's ex-boyfriend and Roger's roommate.
  • Roger Davis: A musician and former junkie. He and his now-deceased girlfriend April were diagnosed with HIV. Mimi attempts to pursue a relationship with him.
  • Mimi Marquez: An exotic dancer. She is a heroin addict, as well as having AIDS. She tries to pursue a relationship with Roger.
  • Tom Collins: an HIV-positive philosophy professor and former roommate of Mark and Roger. He falls in love with Angel.
  • Angel Dumott Schunard: A mischievous, HIV-positive drummer. He falls in love with Collins. Debate rages over whether Angel is male-to-female transgender or just likes the clothes, even on this very wiki.
  • Maureen Johnson: A free-spirited, bisexual performance artist. She left Mark for Joanne.
  • Joanne Jefferson: A Harvard-educated lawyer. She is Maureen's girlfriend, and much, MUCH more strait-laced.
  • Benjamin "Benny" Coffin III: Mark and Roger's landlord. He used to be their roommate, until he married into money and "sold out".

Notable for its revitalization of the musical theatre genre among young people, its ground-breaking portrayal of people with AIDS, and its obsessive fanbase.

Tropes used in Rent include:
  • Ambiguous Gender: Angel. An unusual case, as it isn't because of androgyny, but because Angel is male-bodied, dating a gay man, dresses like a drag queen, acts femininely, and is hinted to prefer the pronoun "she". Her actual gender is never explicitly stated, so interpretations of her range from Crossdresser to transfeminine to everything in between.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Mimi is said to be Latina, but since her first actress was half-black, other portrayals have ranged from fully-black to even white.
  • Anachronism Stew: The play doesn't have a set time period and premiered in 1996, but the movie is based circa 1990. Benny would have to be a prophet to plan a Cyber Studio before the internet was mainstream; ditto for Angel referencing Thelma and Louise a year before it was released. And that's not even the half of it...
    • Among other things, Mark's film montage at the end contained a mural painted on a wall for deceased Latin music legend Celia Cruz on it (with "RIP Celia" and everything)... though the movie was supposed to be set about 10 years before that happened.
  • Anything That Moves: Maureen seems to fall prey to this trope, perhaps best personified when she sings: "Ever since puberty / Everybody stares at me / Boys, girls, I can't help it, baby!"
  • Audience Participation: Moo with me.
  • Auto-Tune: Some of Rosario Dawson's cadences have it applied, almost to the level of Cher.
  • Big Applesauce: The show takes place in New York City.
  • Big No: Roger in Finale A.
  • Book Ends: "December 24th, 9 PM, Eastern Standard Time..."
  • Bury Your Gays: The only one who dies in the play is Angel. The ONE character almost everyone likes, both in-universe and among fans.
    • The Dutch production changes this and kills Mimi too.
      • She died in the original opera, so perhaps they simply thought they were restoring the original storyline.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Joanne, Collins and Angel are gay; Maureen is bisexual; Mark, Roger, Mimi and Benny are straight.
  • Character Development: Roger defrosts, Mark is given some depth in "Halloween" and "Goodbye Love", Maureen gets a little less slutty and clingy after "Goodbye Love" (or at least, is willing to try harder to stay faithful to Joanne).
  • Dark Reprise: The literal reprise of "I'll Cover You" sends 97% of people into either quiet, manageable tears or full-blown hysterics.
  • Defrosting Ice King: Roger, eventually, as he warms up to Mimi. Turned up to eleven if you compare "Another Day" to "Your Eyes".
  • Disney Death: Mimi, who is saved through The Power of Rock... alongside a heavy dose of Fridge Logic/slight Mind Screw.
    • Not in the Dutch production.
    • Being brought from the freezing street to a warm room probably helped.
  • Double Meaning Title: It refers to the rent that Mark and Roger can't pay, and to the general feeling of being torn (i.e., "rent") apart. And the third meaning, as suggested by "I'll Cover You" and "What You Own" - nothing is owned, only rented, in this life. Including life.
  • Downer Ending: The Dutch production apparently did not like how Mimi seemed to be brought back to life by the power of love. And decided to change it so that she really does die. And after she gets carried off stage by the other characters, Mark stands on stage and sings a cynical rendition of the finale. This was approved by the licensors and everything.
  • Drag Queen: Angel
  • Driven to Suicide: Evita, and, less humorously, Roger's old girlfriend, April.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: In the DVD commentary, Chris Columbus and Anthony Rapp speculate that the true reason some viewers left the theater during the "I'll Cover You" scene is because they had difficulty coping with their own desire for Wilson Jermaine Heredia and his fantastic legs.
  • Expy: Every single major character is a personality Expy to a character (or two, in the case of Joanne) in La Boheme.
    • Mark is Marcello.
    • Roger is Rodolfo.
    • Mimi is Mimì.
    • Tom is Colline.
    • Angel is Schaunard.
    • Maureen is Musetta.
    • Joanne is Alcindoro/partially Marcello.
    • Benny is Benoît.
  • Face Heel Turn: Apparently, Benny went through one of these prior to the events of the play.
  • Fan Service: The only reason why, in the film, "Out Tonight" is performed while Mimi is at work instead of at her apartment like in the play. Maureen also suits this, what with her skin-tight near see-through leather catsuit, and flashing her butt.
  • Femme Fatale: Maureen.
  • Foe Yay: Mimi + Benny = This.
  • Foreshadowing: Possibly Fridge Brilliance here, but Mimi singing the Support Group's mantra in "Another Day" is possibly an early indication of her being HIV Positive.
  • Funny Answering Machine: Mark and Roger saying "speeeeeaak" together in a bored tone in songs such as "Voice Mail #1".
    • The New York Theatre Workshop version of RENT has another funny voicemail that never made the final cut.

Collins: We went to steal and air conditioner.
Angel: We'll be right back.

  • Funny Background Event: Easy to miss, but in the Hollywood Bowl performance, Mark is seen crossing his legs while Maureen acts out suckling on the cow's udder by sucking her thumb suggestively.
    • In the 2008 film performance: When Maureen dons a pair of silver shades to imitate Benny, Benny removes his and hides them in his jacket.
  • The Heart: Angel in general, Mimi to Roger, Mark a bit.
  • Heel Face Turn: Benny reconciles with the others after Mimi goes back to him (even though he was cheating on his wife). He even attends Angel's funeral which he later pays for. In the movie, two scenes that should not have been deleted reveal that he always knew Angel killed his wife's dog but was relieved because he hated that mutt, and he gave Roger his blessing to get back together with Mimi towards the end.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Roger and Mark. "What You Own" is their duet and ends with spectacular harmony and a big hug between them once Roger gets back from Santa Fe.
    • This is especially apparent in the New York Theatre Workshop version of "Goodbye Love" from all the way back in 1994. Instead of Roger yelling at Mark for hiding in his work, Mark sings this part about himself, with Roger telling him that it's not true. They then share a sweet "I love you" before parting ways.
      • Not to mention the use of the "I Should Tell You" theme leading directly into Roger's "love you too" (the theme remains in the final version, but not the words).
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Mimi. Okay, she's not a hooker, or even a stripper really, but she does do S&M Dances, and basically follows this trope.
  • How We Got Here: Inverted by "Halloween". "How did we get here, how the hell..."
    • Actually, this trope is played straight in the original Broadway version. Mark is on stage with just his camera and sings the beginning part of "Halloween": "How did we get here, how the hell? Pan left, /Close on the steeple of the church/How did we get here, how the hell?/Christmas. Christmas Eve, last year" which goes straight into "Voicemail #1". However, it was later removed from the show in most Broadway productions.
  • Incoming Ham: In "Christmas Bells", for Maureen.

Maureen: Joanne, which way to the stage?!

  • Insistent Terminology: Mimi is an S&M dancer, not a stripper. Making that mistake in front of the wrong fan can be hazardous to your safety.
  • Ironic Echo: "I'll Cover You". The first time, it's part of an extended metaphor about a pair of lovers providing shelter for each other. The next time, it's about burying Angel.
  • Irrelevant Act Opener: "Seasons of Love". The show's most iconic tune also has almost nothing to do with the narrative itself.
    • One could also argue that "Seasons of Love" IS what the whole show is about: measuring life in the love you have lived, not the days; Angel. The whole play is a celebration of Angel and the effect s/he had on this group of musical misfits.
    • Let's not forget either, "Seasons of Love" talks about the length of a year and how it should be measured in moments, memories and love. It then proceeds to show a year of their life.
  • The Ishmael: Mark. There really is no central character, though the movie would like to believe it's Roger, it seems.
  • Ivy League for Everyone
  • Jewish and Nerdy: Mark.
  • The Jimmy Hart Version: "Do you know the way to Santa Fe?".
  • Ladykiller in Love: Arguably Maureen with Joanne, as they have reconciled and appear to be happy at the end of the show.
  • Large Ham: Three words: Over The Moon.
  • Last-Name Basis: (Tom) Collins.
  • Le Film Artistique: Mark's raison d'être.
  • List Song: "La Vie Bohème".
  • Love Triangle: Mark, Joanne and Maureen, as well as Roger, Mimi and Benny. The movie also gives us Mark, Roger and Mimi subtext.
  • Magical Queer: Angel.
  • Man Hug: Mark and Roger on several occasions, most notably at the end of "What You Own".
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Mimi to Roger, Maureen to Joanne. Angel to everyone.
  • The Masochism Tango: The tango... Maureen.
  • Meaningful Echo: "No Day But Today", "Without You" and "Will I?" were all given this treatment in the finale. At the same time.
    • Also, during "Finale B", Roger meaningfully echoes "Thank God this moment's not the last", a much-needed nod to "Another Day".
    • During "Finale A", Roger and Mimi echo "Another Day", "Light My Candle" and "I Should Tell You".
      • "I Should Tell You" is also echoed briefly in "Your Eyes".
      • It's also echoed in "Goodbye Love" in the sung-conversation between Mark and Roger, right before he says "I'll call." More Roger Mark subtext, anyone?
    • Some of "Today 4 U" is reprised far more sexily during "Contact".
  • Meaningful Funeral: Angel's.
  • Meaningful Name: The only character to die? Angel.
    • Also, many characters' names are modernizations of their counterparts from La Bohème.
  • The Messiah: Both Angel and Mark.
  • Mind Screw: "Contact": It's kind of a stage-wide orgy that is also a metaphor for Angel's death. It never fails to confuse the hell out of everyone the first time around.
  • Mister Muffykins: Evita, Benny's wife's dog (at least the yappy part).
  • The Movie: FEATURING: Most of the original Broadway cast members!
  • The Musical: Rent is arguably the late parts of The Eighties and the early parts of The Nineties condensed and put to an awesome soundtrack.
  • No Bisexuals: Maureen falls prey to this, being constantly referred to as a lesbian, when she is actually bisexual. It seems she just mostly prefers women.
  • Only Sane Man: Some see Benny as this. Especially because he seems to be the only person who thought to put Mimi into rehab.
    • Mark sees himself as this.
  • Original Cast Precedent: Mark and Mimi are stated to be respectively Jewish and Hispanic, but the races of the other characters are pretty much determined by those of the original cast members despite race being mostly incidental. Thus, Joanne, Collins and Benny are always black; Angel always Hispanic; and Maureen and Roger always white.
    • International professional productions may differ, and so may amateur productions. All-white (with the occasional Token Minority) amateur productions of RENT are not rare occurrences.
    • Subverted in the Hollywood Bowl production in Maureen's case, as she was played by the Hawaiian/Filipina Nicole Scherzinger.
  • Positive Discrimination: It might be a coincidence, but the four canonically minority characters (Benny, Collins, Joanne and Mimi) seem to be the only ones with stable jobs.
  • The Power of Rock: How they save Mimi.
  • Precision F-Strike:

Joanne: This is weird.
Mark: So weird...
Joanne: Very weird...
Mark: Fucking weird!

    • TWICE in the same song, actually.

Joanne: She cheated!
Mark: She cheated.
Joanne: Maureen cheated!
Mark: Fucking cheated!

Roger: Muffy-
Benny/Mark: Allison...

  • Say My Name: In "Your Eyes": "MIIMIIIIII!" shouted by Roger, which is either a Downer Ending in the Dutch production, or her Disney Death in other productions everywhere else.
  • Self-Parody: "Right Brain" definitely counts as an accidental example of this trope. Dating back to the New York Theatre Workshop in 1994, "Right Brain" was what is now "One Song Glory", and many fans either feel like vomiting or laughing when they hear it, for very obvious reasons.
  • Setting Update
  • Shout-Out: It has many references to being a Recycled in Space version of La Boheme, such as:
    • Angel's last name (Schunard, the name of the character she was modeled after) - not to mention Collins (Colline), Mark (Marcello), Mimi (just guess), etc...
    • The use of "Musetta's Waltz" (the song Roger keeps playing on his guitar)
      • Or the line from "La Vie Bohème A": "And Roger will attempt to write a bittersweet, evocative song... (Roger plays) ...that doesn't remind us of Musetta's Waltz."
    • The lines "Every single day, I walk down the street, I hear people say 'Baby's so sweet'" in "Take Me or Leave Me" (a fairly direct, if modernized, translation of the first lines of "Quando m'en vo", or "Musetta's Waltz").
    • And of course, the akita, Evitata.
    • Part of "Christmas Bells", where various vendors shout out their wares to passerby, echoes a similar scenario in the Act II opening of La Boheme.
    • And near the ending, Roger's shout of "MIIMIIIIII!" when he thinks Mimi has died in "Your Eyes" is similar to the ending of the opera, when Mimì dies in Rodolfo's arms and he cries out her name over her corpse.
  • Sidekick Song: "Today 4 U" for Angel, "Santa Fe" for Collins, "Over the Moon" for Maureen.
  • So Beautiful It's a Curse: Maureen's flimsy justification for being the town bike in the song "Take Me or Leave Me".
  • Somewhere a Mammalogist Is Crying: Evita the little yappy dog is specifically mentioned to be an akita, for rhyming reasons. Akitas are a large breed, reaching 100 lbs or more.
  • Stepford Smiler: Mark. While he's always attempting to be Roger's happy, supportive best friend, the song "Halloween" marks him (pun intended) as someone contemplative, mournful, and terrified of the reality of his situation. And when I capture it on film, will it mean that it's the end and I'm alone?
  • True Companions: This is supposed to be the overall relationship of the main characters. Well, except Benny.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Mark.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: Joanne and Maureen.
  • Villain Song: "You'll See".
  • Wham! Line: A few, including "La Vie Bohème"'s:

Mimi: "AZT Break."

    • There's also a "Wham Shadow", when Collins appears holding Angel's body.
    • From "Goodbye Love", Mark's "perhaps that's because I'm the one of us to survive!"
  • What the Hell, Hero?: A homeless woman delivers a scathing one to Mark, rightly pointing out that he's only using her plight to make a name for himself and kill some of his guilt, since filming her like an animal on the Discovery Channel doesn't solve any of her problems. This actually causes him to rethink his movie plans, refocusing it on his friends facing HIV.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Angel.