“I’ve never cried so much at a show,” my almost 16 year old daughter, Emily, said as we left the National Theatre after last night’s opening night performance of RENT. As we walked briskly to our parking spot on an unusually frigid night, we talked about why we want to see this powerful rock musical again before it leaves Washington, DC next week.
Emily and her 13 year old brother, Thomas, are experienced theater-goers who have attended many performances in their young lives but seeing RENT together was a milestone. It was exciting to share the timeless celebration of friendship, creativity, and importance of measuring our lives with love with a new generation thanks to the RENT 20th anniversary tour.
With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters—love.
Watching a show where themes of love, acceptance, and pursuing one’s dreams are shadowed by mature themes of HIV/AIDS, drugs, sex and sexuality made me realize how far we’ve come from the days of feel good children’s theater productions with run times that matched young audience’s short attention spans.
Unlike past performances where I provided my kids with background information about the plot and listened to the show’s musical numbers ahead of time, I wanted RENT to be a surprise. I wanted them to hear each song sung live by actors and actresses whose astounding vocal ranges give you chills. I hoped they’d experience same gut-wrenching emotions in their seats as I did when I first saw it as a graduate student in Boston in the late 90s. And they did.
My teens fell in love with the cast who embodied the characters they played and elicited strong emotions from the audience, whether speaking or using their incredible vocal ranges to sing powerful musical numbers. Emily, in her second season as stage manager for her high school productions, marveled at the inventive set design that included the varied use of metal tables as props. Guitar playing Thomas loved the varied songs and commented that this was the first performance that we’d seen where the musicians had a place on the stage with the cast.
Personally, I loved spending an evening with my teens because of RENT. Over burritos at District Taco we had a chance to catch up, laughed over silly selfies that were taken as we waited for house doors to open, and bonded over finding RENT’s Snapchat filters.
It would have been easy to say it was too cold to go out last night, especially after exhaustion from the previous night’s parent teacher conferences started to creep in but as I stood clapping alongside my two teens I was glad for this time together, courtesy of RENT and National Theatre DC.
RENT is only at the National Theatre until Sunday, November 17 so be sure to grab tickets for remaining shows on the following dates and times:
- Wednesday, November 13 at 7:30 pm
- Thursday, November 14 at 7:30 pm
- Friday, November 15 at 8 pm
- Saturday, November 16 at 2 pm and 8 pm
- Sunday, November 17 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm
Tickets for RENT may be purchased at TheNationalDC.com, in person at the National Theatre box office (weekdays, Noon to 6:00 PM), or by calling 800-514-3849. RENT runs approximately 2 hours and 35 minutes, including intermission, and is recommended for ages 13+.
For more information about RENT, read my post: RENT is Coming to National Theatre DC in November.
I received complimentary tickets to RENT for the purposes of this review but all opinions are my own.