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The Final Performance of 'Rent' Comes Home

24 Dec, 2008 By: Kyra Kudick

With 12 years on Broadway, four Tony Awards, one Pulitzer Prize and a cultural impact that has yet to be fully understood, Rent saw its final Broadway performance Sept. 7, 2008, at the famed Nederlander Theatre in New York City. And Sony Pictures was there to film it.

Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway will be available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Feb. 3, (prebook Jan. 1) from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.  

“We know that fans are anticipating [the release] and waiting to celebrate it,” said Jennifer Anderson, VP of marketing at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “[This is] the last performance ever, so you can imagine that it is emotionally charged with some surprises and special appearances by original Broadway cast members.”

A groundbreaking rock musical based on Puccini’s opera La Bohème, Rent tells the tale of poor, struggling artists in Manhattan’s East Village and the challenges they face such as sub-par living conditions, drug addiction and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
While the show is neither gay-themed nor gay-centric, four of the eight principal characters are gay, lesbian or bisexual. Those who have HIV/AIDS are split evenly between the straight and gay characters.

The show is also thought to be largely responsible for the now-everyday practice of offering discounted rush tickets for Broadway shows. For each performance of Rent, seats in the two front rows of the theater were reserved in a lottery at $20 a piece. People would line up outside the theater hours in advance of a performance hoping to purchase the lottery seats. These uber-fans became known as “Rent-heads.”

The home video release of the final performance is set to coincide with the launch of the National Theater Tour of Rent, which begins in January 2009, Anderson said. She added the campaign targets “Rent-heads” as well as other entertainment fans.

The DVD ($24.95) and Blu-ray Disc ($38.96) both include the featurettes “Rent: The Final Days on Broadway,” a retrospective documentary featuring the cast and crew; “The Final Curtain Call,” in which past and present cast members sing “Seasons of Love” on stage one last time; “The Wall,” a look at the famous backstage wall; and “The Final Lottery,” where hundreds of fans turned out hoping to sit in the front two rows for the last show.

The Blu-ray Disc exclusive features are “Home,” a behind-the-scenes peek at how the theater was transformed into the home of Rent; and “Casting,” in which Bernard Telsey talks about casting the show for 12 years.

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