The Differences Between 'Rent Live' & The Movie Show That Fox Kept With The Stage Version
Mark, Roger, Mimi, Tom, Angel, Maureen, Joanne, and even Benny have been beloved characters for more than 20 decades. But if you first met them in the 2005 Christopher Columbus adaption, you will immediately notice differences between Rent: Live and the movie. These changes will come as no real surprise to fans of the original Broadway musical since they've had years to lament or accept the liberties that the film took with Jonathan Larson's musical.
The original Broadway production of Rent was critically acclaimed and won the Tony for Best Musical in 1996, but the same really can't be said for the film. Reviews from critics were not overly kind, with Rent holding a score of 46 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. And the movie also divided fans — and not just because of the changes between them. The Columbus film used the majority of the original Broadway cast and while some people may have appreciated that, others thought those actors were too old to reprise their roles nine years later.
Yet, if you never had the opportunity to see Rent live onstage, the movie introduced you to this world of artists struggling to pay their rent in Alphabet City and living with HIV/AIDS. So for the sake of seeing where these adaptions stand, here are the differences between Rent the movie and Rent: Live.
The First Song
Rent: Live didn't start with "Seasons of Love." Instead (as long as FOX was working for you), it kicked off with the song "Rent," like the original musical.
In the original musical, there is hardly any dialogue with the characters singing everything, like the opera Larson based it on — La Bohème. But Perks of Being a Wallflower author Stephen Chbosky wrote the screenplay for the movie, which included far more talking. Kristoffer Diaz adapted Rent: Live and reverted back to mostly singing.
Even though Rent: Live stuck more to the original format, lyrics and lines were inevitably changed. This, of course, enraged fans, especially since some lyric changes like the one above from "Life Support" seemed to be done for no reason. (Meanwhile, you can understand the removal of the f-bombs from "Tango Maureen," as this version had to be broadcast-friendly.)
No one likes listening to voicemails in real life, but diehard fans weren't happy that the voicemails were cut from Rent the movie, and were delighted to see they were reinstated for Rent: Live.
In the movie, Maureen shows up during the tango dream sequence in "Tango Maureen." But in Rent: Live, she doesn't make her epic appearance until "Over The Moon," like in the Broadway show.
Speaking of that elaborate "Tango Maureen" dream dance sequence from the movie, Rent: Live kept to the stage. So no big dance halls in "Tango Maureen" or subway cars for "Santa Fe."
The Focus On The HIV/AIDS Crisis
Before the song "Life Support," original Mark actor Anthony Rapp did a voiceover where he gave statistics about HIV/AIDS. This expository background was not included in the movie.
"La Vie Bohème"
After "Seasons of Love," "La Vie Bohème" is the most iconic song from Rent, o people were not OK with the lyrics that were cut and/or edited for Rent: Live. Even purists might prefer the movie version for this one.
The "Take Me Or Leave Me" Scene
In the movie, the setting for "Take Me or Leave Me" was Maureen and Joanne's engagement party. That was a switch just for the movie, so Rent: Live kept the song in a more intimate space (you know, besides the in-studio audience), sans engagement.
More Of The Original Songs
In the Rent movie, there was no "Happy New Year" or "Contact," and "Halloween" and "Goodbye Love" weren't kept in their entirety (although you can watch the deleted scenes of those last two). But Rent: Live kept all those songs intact.
No Spotlight For "Seasons Of Love"
The simple staging for "Seasons of Love" is pretty iconic, so people were confused why Rent: Live messed with it.
The Last Song
But maybe "Seasons of Love" with the original Broadway cast standing in a straight line after "Finale B" made you forgive the Rent faux pas earlier in the evening.
All productions will have slight variations, and while people who adore the original Broadway production may never love the movie or TV versions as much, at least Rent the movie and Rent Live have one beautiful thing in common — they have given more people the opportunity to know this story.