Musical ‘Rent’ celebrates its 20th anniversary at the Pantages

24. Director Evan Ensign restaged the tour, based on original direction by Michael Greif, with the goal of maintaining original writer Jonathan Larsen’s script and vision. The groundbreaking rock opera “Rent” has been measuring a year in the life of its characters on stages throughout the world for two decades, picking up a 1996 Pulitzer Prize and several Tony Awards along the way.Today, the musical is celebrating its beloved yet controversial story with the “Rent 20th Anniversary Tour,” which will run eight shows at the Hollywood Pantages starting Jan.

The musical’s hit songs will be performed by the cast and a band, including “Seasons of Love,” “I’ll Cover You,” “Out Tonight,” “Light My Candle” and “I Should Tell You.” Ensign said patrons will feel like they walked into the Nederlander Theatre, where the musical maintained a 12-year run of 5,123 performances before launching several national tours, adaptations and numerous foreign productions. In honor of Larsen, Ensign and the production team worked to create a set that is almost identical to the original.
“It’s very much the original story. Jonathan wrote a very brilliant piece of theater, and he’s not alive for us to say, ‘Let’s try this.’ You don’t go and rewrite his work; it’s just not right,” said Ensign, who started out as a stage manager for the first tour of the musical before reviving the current anniversary tour. I think the audience connects on that personal level, too.” “It comes from my heart mainly; it speaks to a time period I know, and although I don’t know anybody exactly like the characters in ‘Rent’ — I didn’t live that wild of a life — there are aspects of the characters of people I know.

That’s universal and those things will never die out.” “Those things exist in the world, but I never thought that’s what the play is about. To me, it’s about family, how we find family, who we let into our lives, how we trust others and ourselves. Ensign said the story continues to hit home for its audience.“Yes, there’s AIDS and drug use in the play,” he said. Set in New York’s Lower East Side Village, the story takes place in the apartments of a group of young bohemians struggling to survive addiction, sexuality discrimination and living in the shadow of the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the late 1980s.