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Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway(2008)
Set in New York City's gritty East Village, the revolutionary rock opera Rent tells the story of a group of bohemians struggling to live and pay their rent. "Measuring their lives in love," these starving artists strive for success and acceptance while enduring the obstacles of poverty, illness and the AIDS epidemic. Rent is based on Jonathan Larson's Pulitzer and Tony Award winning musical, one of the longest running shows on Broadway.
For more about Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway and the Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway Blu-ray release, see the Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway Blu-ray Review
Starring: Will Chase, Rodney Hicks, Adam Kantor, Michael McElroy, Tracie Thoms, Justin Johnston
Director: Michael John Warren
» See full cast & crew
Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway Blu-ray Review
Broadway magic on Blu-ray
Reviewed by Sir Terrence, February 15, 2009
I love Broadway; that love springs, partially, from the fact I spent so much of my younger life in on and off-Broadway theaters, hanging out with my Uncles who worked as theater technicians and sound guys. I later became a sound man myself; working on several Broadway and off-Broadway productions before moving to California to pursue a career in film sound. Still, there's nothing like sitting in a theater enjoying a well crafted and entertaining show. I've been to well over 100 Broadway shows in my lifetime, and have enjoyed a variety of productions, including "Cats," "Phantom of the Opera," "Dreamgirls," " Amadeus" and "Angels in America," just to name a few. The emotion that a live performance can deliver cannot be matched, in my opinion, by film; which is why I've always believed that, with a few notable exceptions, films adapted from stage productions never quite measure up to the originals. My preference for staged productions was reinforced by viewing "Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway." This popular musical's strengths were highlighted by the live performance and was truly more entertaining and emotionally dynamic than watching the recent film adaptation.
Broken up into two acts, "Rent" is an emotionally heart-wrenching story that follows a group of friends coping with love, HIV, AIDS, eviction and various drug addictions. The story is told through a series of musical numbers that break the story down succinctly. While the story is complex and multi-layered, the basic elements of the narrative can be best described by highlighting the eclectic characters that we follow throughout the performance
Mark Cohen: Filmmaker, the musical's narrator and the person documenting his friend's lives through film as the story progresses.
Roger Davis is a musician, infected with HIV, and recovering from drug addiction. Roger's girlfriend, April, committed suicide after discovering that she had been infected with HIV. Roger lives to write the perfect song before he succumbs to his disease.
Tom Collins is a philosophy teacher and anarchist; he's also suffering from the effects of AIDS.
Mimi Márquez: An erotic dancer who is HIV-positive, a heroin junkie, and involved with Roger.
Angel Dumott Schunardis involved with Tom, has AIDS, and eventually dies.
Joanne Jefferson is a Ivy League-educated lawyer. Maureen left Mark to be with Joanne.
Maureen Johnson is a bisexual performance artist, Joanne's girlfriend, and Mark's ex-girlfriend.
Benjamin "Benny" Coffin III owns Mark, Roger and Mimi's apartment building. He was also an ex-roommate of Mark, Collins, Roger, and Maureen, but married into money and is considered by the group to be a sell out.
Alison 'Muffy' Grey is Benjamin's wife. She is never seen or heard in the show, but is still a central character throughout the musical's proceedings.
Mr. Grey is Alison's Father and Benny's father-in-law. While mentioned quite a bit, he is only seen during 'La Vie Boheme A'.
Gordon is a member of Life Support, a group that supports people with HIV and AIDS. He is featured in the songs 'Life Support' and "Will I?'.
Steve is also member of Life Support. He feels he will lose his dignity as he get's sicker from AIDS. His biggest fear is that people will not remember him, but the fact that he has AIDS.
"Rent" chronicles one year of trials, tribulations, successes, and even death in the lives of these intriguing and complex characters.
Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway Blu-ray, Video Quality
"Rent Filmed Live on Broadway" dances onto the Blu-ray format in a stunning 1080p/AVC encode, framed at a screen filling 1:78:1 aspect ratio. Shot in high definition, images are clean as a whistle with absolutely no film related issues to be found. Colors are vivid and lush, but never over saturated or neon-like in intensity. Black levels are extremely deep while never obscuring detail of any kind. With black levels this impressive, contrast right on the money and vivid colors, the resulting picture is presented with astounding dynamic range and punch. Fine detail is perfectly rendered, Mimi shaking glitter from her hair during 'Out Tonight,' fabrics used in clothing, beads of sweat, even the actors unintentionally spitting while they sing; it's all intricate and extremely impressive, visually. In addition, the makeup artists on this production deserve sincere congratulations for obscuring the stage makeup that is normally overkill when viewed in high definition. Here, we see each unique skin-tone from each of the actors with stunning clarity. This Blu-ray disc epitomizes the strengths of high definition on complex and challenging material.
Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway Blu-ray, Audio Quality
I was a little less impressed with the audio on this disc than I was with the video. Presented in 5.1 Dolby TrueHD at 24/48khz, the track lacks immediacy and punch, but accurately represents the tonal qualities of a small musical band. The audio is not lacking in dynamics; the score shifts between quieter moments and full out blasting rock and roll. The band does sound like it is recorded in the far-field, lacking the immediacy one would hear in a close miked setup. One certainly experiences the raw sound of a raw performance, untouched, not enhanced or sweetened in any way. Imaging is excellent across the frontal sound stage, with the surrounds contributing a bit of ambience, the audience reaction and sound effects. Sound field depth is fair, back wall phantom imaging is very good and side wall phantom imaging virtually existent. Vocals are dynamically limited, but this is common in a production of this kind and should not be looked at as negative. Bass is tight and balanced in the mix, but fails to dig deeply in frequency and depth. Overall, I found the mix to be well-balanced; the trade-offs and compromises that where made to record the performance still present a pleasing audio experience.
Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Fans of Rent will devour these well-produced extras, while others might find a bit too much repetition in the various featurettes. Still, it's a great package that honors the show's musical impact.
Documentary: "'Rent': The Final Days on Broadway (HD, 37 minutes)
Featurette: The Final Curtain Call (HD, 8 minutes)
Featurette: The Wall (HD, 6 minutes)
Featurette: The Final Lottery (HD, 9 minutes)
National Marfan Foundation PSA (SD, 1 minute)
Theatrical Trailers (HD)
These following featurettes are exclusive to the Bluray release:
Featurette: Home (HD 7 minutes)
Featurette: Casting (HD 8 minutes)
Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation PSA (SD 6 minutes)
This disc is BD Live enabled for downloading extra content from the Sony Website.
Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I really love "Rent." I loved it so much, in fact, that I watched it twice in the process of writing this review. Everyone has heard the cliched words "I laughed, I cried..." when referring to a good comedy laced drama. That was my experience with "Rent," as the emotional dynamic I experienced was far greater than anything I encountered watching the film version. Since "Rent" is no longer playing on Broadway, this disc serves as the next best thing to actually seeing the production live. If I had one complaint about this filmed version of the musical, it would be in the use of too many close ups in the production that often spoil the staged aspects of the production. "Rent" earns my highest recommendation; the content of the play overshadows any possible issues with audio and video quality.
Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Rent Live Coming to Blu-ray - November 24, 2008
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring 'Rent Filmed Live on Broadway' to Blu-ray on February 3rd, day-and-date with the DVD release. For this musical based in New York City's East Village, video will be presented in 1080p AVC accompanied ...
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