By Sara Leavitt

Rent began quietly enough, with Roger, an HIV-positive musician, tuning his guitar and Mark, a struggling filmmaker, setting up his camera on stage.

By the time the rest of the cast had assembled on stage and started to sing the loud opening number "Rent", which lyrics like "How can you connect in an age where strangers, landlord, lovers, your own blood cells betray", I knew that this was not going to be a typical Broadway show. There was something new to it, a feeling of energy I had never experienced before in the theater. Rent was louder, brighter and most of all, it felt real. From the setting in the East Village to all of the queer characters, this was a world that really existed.

One part of Rent that excited me was that all of the lesbian and gay characters had more to them than just their sexuality. Tom Collins, who fell somewhere between a computer teacher and a genius hacker, and Angel, the most optimistic drag queen around, were the perfect example of a happy couple -- straight or gay.

To be in a Broadway theater and watch two women, Joanne and Maureen, work out problems in their relationship during the course of a song was simply remarkable. "Take Me or Leave Me", was about two really strong people having difficulty being together and these people just happened to be women.

I can not give one reason as to why I love this show so much. There is an incredible energy coming from this show, an energy that can change attitudes, remind people that there is "no day but today", and that a person can live with AIDS. Having seen Rent numerous times, I can truthfully say that the cast puts an unbelievable amount of effort into telling this story.

They always seem to be at their best and care about what they are doing. I forget that I am in a theater and get caught up in the story of these people who are struggling to survive in a place that seems to be falling down all around them. Even so, they always manage to find the light and love in life.


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