One of the most impressive lyrics from the song “Seasons of Love” is “525,600 minutes, 525,600 moments so dear.” If you have seen the musical Rent, this phrase would have been ringing in your ears. Not only does it have a catchy melody, but the big number in the lyrics made me wonder what it stood for. Can you guess what it means? Give up? It is the conversion of a year into minutes. I was little surprised that the number was smaller than I expected because I felt one year is a long time. By what standards do you measure your life? Rent ultimately teaches and recommends that every single minute should be measured with love.
The Popularity of Rent
After hearing about the popularity of Rent, I went to see it performed at Chungmu Art Hall. The fame of Rent is widespread all over the world. It first began on January 26, 1996, at a little theater in New York. Its performances quickly became so popular that it was shown on Broadway, which is the representative musical street in New York, after three months. In Korea, Rent was first performed in 2000. This season represents the eleventh performance in Korea.
A great number of famous Korean musical actors and actresses such as Choi Jung-won, Lee Gun-myung have performed in this musical. As well, Kolleen Park who became famous on KBS’s “The Qualification of Men” has now undertaken direction of the show. After watching her charismatic attitude toward music on TV, my trust of her taking over Rent grew and grew. Actually, I know a bit about musicals and am familiar with famous shows such as Mamma Mia or Grease, but I did not know much about Rent. However, after reading about its successful performances in America, especially on Broadway, I really looked forward to this musical.
Synopsis of Rent
Rent’s Main characters are Roger, Mimi, Mark, Collins, Angel, Maureen and Joanne. They live in the East Village of New York with little money. Roger is a rock music singer and dreams of writing an excellent song. Mimi is a famous stripper in the East Village as well as a drug addict. Roger lost his ex-girlfriend, also a drug addict who killed herself. This makes Roger not accept the fact that he loves Mimi. However, after he finds out both he and Mimi are suffering from AIDS, he decides to move in with her. Another couple is Collins and Angel.
Collins is an university professor and receives help from Angel when he is attacked by gangsters. Angel is a man in skirts and falls in love with Collins. Angel dies from AIDS and his death teaches the others the meaning of sincere love. (In the play, Angel and Collins are a gay couple.) Maureen and Joanne are a lesbian couple. After reading this brief summary of Rent, you might think ‘What is wrong with them?’ because several taboos in modern society are mentioned. However, these points symbolize that Rent’s characters are really freewheeling. I could feel their souls through the excitement of rock music.
The most impressive scene in Rent is “Life Support.” Angel and Collins regularly attend AIDS patients’ meetings to share their pain with friends. They talk about their sorrow because their life is unpredictable. You can see part of the lyrics of “Life Support” below.
When I think of this song, this scene overlaps with the drama “Scent of a Woman” that was broadcast on SBS. In the drama, the actress was also living a time-limited life so she made a wish-list. She did not worry about her future but just concentrated on her present time. Like this drama, “Life Support” also teaches me to enjoy my life’s moments. When I was young, I struggled while working towards a better future thinking that ‘If I sacrifice now, I am going to be happier later.’
However, the moment I live and select what I am doing now decides whether my life will be a happy one or not. Surely, my future is important but today makes tomorrow’s future. I realized that the future and today’s happiness are not separate. So, I am especially impressed by the ‘No day but today’ lyrics.
To be honest, it was hard to see the actors’ and actresses’ emotions in Rent because my seat was on the second floor. However, the rich voices of the actors and actresses were strong enough to convey their passion to my distant seat. Compared to other musicals, Rent has its own color. Watching the movie version of Rent is also a great way to appreciate the songs while being touched emotionally. I strongly recommend you to see Rent!