For a show that I claim to hate, I have somehow managed see the show at least three times – not on broadway, though. As I’ve said on numerous occasions, I hate almost all the characters because they are whiny, pretentious and self involved. But the high points outweigh the story. After all of these years, I still love all the big songs like Take Me or Leave Me, Seasons of Love, One Song, I’ll Cover You and La Boheme. The show had it’s final Broadway performance last September and the folks at Sony Home Video captured the moment on a beautiful Blu-Ray package. The picture and audio is sharp and clean, that I feel like I’m in the audience. The final performance brought back a lot of the stars from the original production (who were also featured in Movie version) including: Idina Menzel (Maureen), Wilson Jermaine Heredia (Angel), Adam Pascal (Roger), and Tracie Thoms (Joanne). It made watching the final performance sort of bitter sweet. I wish all Broadway and Theater shows put their performance on DVD and especially Blu-Ray. Yes you can’t beat the experience of seeing a show live, but hey, live shows on Broadway are outrageously expensive – $200 – $400 and they sit there and wonder why revenue is down. This Blu-ray really brings the performance home and actually makes me want to catch Rent the next time in NY, oh wait… The whole point of this performance is, its the curtain call. One of the cool little special features is an 8 minute Curtain Call with the original cast doing a surprise appearance singing Seasons of Love. The Camera pans around to all of the people in the audience crying and I’ll admit it, it got to me.
Again, let me reiterate, I hate all the characters in this production, not a single sympathetic one. Sure we’re supposed to feel for Angel, but when we’re introduced to her, she sings happily about some old rich woman paying her to kill her neighbor’s dog. Right away, I hated her. Not to mention the song is stupid and terrible – crass, commercialized pop drivel – the same thing the show espouses against. The only one who I thought was sympathetic was Benny because all of his former “friends,” completely turned on him when Benny decided to try and make something of himself. He was bending over backwards to help these people, let them stay Rent free for a year, tried to work out a compromise so he could build his condos and he got “spit” in the face for his efforts even tho their condos were as good as the coal harbour condos for sale I once saw in a website. The show tries desperately to make him the bad guy and the symbol of “greed,” and “commercialism,” but he wasn’t.
The Blu-Ray extras include –
The Wall (HD, 6 Minutes) – A short featurette about the back staged Wall of the Theaters. It’s just the camera panning over the names with an instrumental version of “I’ll Cover You” in the background, pretty nice and kind of moving, because again, you realize this is it, another NY Institution is gone.
- Rent The Final Days on Broadway (HD, 36 Mins) – A 36 minute documentary on the last days of Rent.
- Casting (HD, 7:50) – A discussion with the Casting Directors about the show.
- Jonathan Larson PSA (HD, 5:53) – A short PSA about Rent creator’s Jonathan Larson’s Foundation.
- The Final Lottery – (HD, 9 Min) – About the final Lottery for people trying to secure tickets for the final performances. Apparently, they gave away tickets to the first two rows for $20. And it’s something they did from the beginning, which was a cool gesture. It’s one of those “secret” things that NY Insiders know – and I spent half a year living there and never knew.
- BD-Live – Lame
There’s nothing wrong with these featurettes, they are excellent (except BD-Live, ugh) but they don’t do anything to truly showcase or distinguish the Blu-Ray format from regular DVDs.
As I write this review, I’m starting to convince myself that the characters really aren’t that bad, what sells the show for me are the high points. They still resonate today, all of these years later and it’s sad to know that Rent’s gone from Broadway. It just seems like one of those things that would always be there. This Blu-Ray does a perfect job of capturing those final moments. But I have to say, I’m really annoyed that Sony didn’t include Digital Copy on this disc or really take advantage of any of the interactive features. Yes the picture and audio are fantastic, but Sony are the creators of the Blu-ray format so they have a special obligation to make every one of their discs be a showcase – especially when they expect people to pay a premium price for it. The Blu-ray retails for $38.95 and the Regular DVD $24.95. Both will hit the streets, February 3, 2009.
- Movie – B
- Picture – A
- Audio – A
- Features – C
Final Overall Grade – Bc