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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway


Starring: Adam Kantor, Will Chase, Renee Elise Goldsberry and Michael McElroy
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 11 February 2009

In New York’s East Village a group of struggling artists have to contend with the aids epidemic and their inherent poverty, struggling for recognition and struggling to pay their rent...

Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway (2008 - 2 hrs, 32 min, 35 sec) is a recording of the last night of this musical which ran for twelve years to great acclaim. Fans of the show will undoubtedly be delighted that Sony have chosen to commit the show to Blu-ray.

The story tells of Mark (Adam Kantor) a failed documentary maker who lives with his reclusive friend Roger (Will Chase) who at one time had a chance of being a big rock star but has retreated since contracting HIV. The show starts on Christmas Eve, when the two are visited by an old friend Tom (Michael McElroy), before he can get to their place he is attacked on the street which leads him to meeting Angel (Justin Johnston). Bennie (Rodney Hicks), a one time friend and inhabitant of their little world is now their landlord and he arrives demanding his rent. Against this background Mark meets Mimi (Renee Goldsberry).

I am not generally a fan of musicals, unless they are old or witty, so I may not be the best person to judge this stage play. Personally I found that it was very similar to an opera in that most of the dialogue is sung in what appears to be a fairly random manner, with the occasional song which you just might be able to hum popping up here and there. Though even here there were no tracks which were strong enough to stand alone away from the play itself. One the plus side the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track is impressively clear and dynamic.

I won’t deny the quality of the disc, the picture is pin sharp, as a record of an event the film is well shot and I would imagine that if you had parted with your bucks to sit in the back seats the chance to get close to the action is going to be a pretty unmissable experience. That’s not to say that for everything you gain you lose something else. The actors obviously have to emote to the back rows of the theatre which close up makes them look like they are over acting at times, but then this is theatre acting and not film acting.

The disc comes with an impressive number of extras, which kicks off with Rent: The Final Days on Broadway (36 min, 56 sec) follows the show through the last week of its existence with contributions from the most recent and the original cast, the featurette also contains substantial behind the scenes footage. The Final Curtain Call (8 min, 11 sec) has the original cast waiting backstage for the final curtain call.

Home (6 min, 51 sec) is a profile of the Nederlander Theater, where Rent has been playing since its inception. The Wall (6 min) takes a look at the notes which fans of the show have left in and around the theatre. Casting (7 min, 50 sec) has casting director Bernard Telsey discussing how the original cast came about and how subsequent changes were made. The Final Lottery (9 min, 02 sec) is a piece about the lottery that the show ran for fans to be able to sit in the front two rows, a lottery which was obviously sought after for the final show.

National Marfan Foundation PSA (1 min, 02 sec) is an advert for Marfan syndrome and Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation (5 min, 53 sec) is a piece about the late composer of the show.

For fans of the show this is going to be a ‘must buy’ personally I just didn’t get it.


Charles Packer

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