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Archived Smirk

Last night we saw the musical Rent for the eighth time. We've seen the most recent Broadway cast, we've seen the Benny cast (the second national touring company&#41, and now we've seen the Angel cast (the first national touring company.&#41 We've had a special affinity for the Benny cast, as it was the first one we ever saw, the one we saw the most, (in La Jolla, L.A., Seattle, and Tampa&#41 and the one with our favorite character interpretations (Neil Patrick Harris as Mark comes to mind….&#41 but last night's performance was the best we've ever seen…definitely the best second act we've ever seen. I mean, you'll shed a tear the first time you see Rent, and maybe the second time, but if six times later a whole new interpretation makes you laugh and cry in unexpected places, it's good. It's damn good. Thank god we have tickets to three more shows! 

Another surprising thing that I realized is that even though the story takes place in New York, I actually believe that it works better in San Francisco. One of the neat things about seeing it performed in so many different cities is noticing the differing audience reactions. People in different parts of the country laugh at different lines, and are generally less attentive and less understanding during certain parts. The Tampa audience, for example, is for the most part older, less urban, and truth be told, they probably don't see a hell of a lot of homeless people. They can't relate to a lot of it; they don't understand. They laugh a lot in the wrong places. San Francisco, though, has thousands of homeless people, lots of drug use, an obvious, well-publicized class struggle, and a rent crunch. The majority of San Franciscans are young, many are in creative fields, and practically everyone has a roommate. Obviously, there is also a better understanding of the gay community, AIDS, and cross-dressers.

I often dread going to the symphony or the theater here because of the typically bad (read: late, loud, and inattentive&#41 audiences I have encountered in the past, but last night…last night was one of the most attentive, respectful, enthusiastic crowds that I've ever been a part of. Could Rent finally be something that all San Franciscans agree on?    

Posted in Smirks.

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