Seattle pays for 'Rent'

All dialogue guaranteed to be completely imaginary—but true.

Well, what can you expect? Look at the author's bio. All he ever wanted was to write a big Broadway musical. He lived on development grants from foundations funded by Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim. Rock? Please: This is a man whose day job was writing songs for Sesame Street. Downtown? Give me a break: If he ever got as far downtown as Avenue C he must have been wearing a bag over his head. The New York Times delivers a more sophisticated picture of downtown. Imagine: The poor man spends seven years on this turkey—seven years—and then dies before it opens. I swear, it's enough to make you believe in God.

Rent

Moore Theater, 292-ARTS

Tue-Sun through November 8

Kevin P., 13, Summit Alternative School:

My favorite part? Oh, I don't know. The place where the blond chick pulls her pants down, I guess. Mom, leggo! Well, he asked . . .

Aaron F., 34, aspiring producer:

It's perfect: You get to charge Broadway prices for a one-set show with a cast of 15 unknowns working for scale, and they're completely interchangeable. So if one breaks or goes crazy, you just uncrate a replacement. You sell a couple dozen seats for 20 bucks a pop and get credit for being public-spirited so you can charge 22 bucks for a lousy T-shirt. Don't get me wrong, the show's a bargain: You get to look at junkies without getting mugged and transvestites without getting dished and street people without getting spared-changed. It's like going to New York without the hassle of actually having to be there.

Peter L., 60, medical records manager, Providence Hospital:

I don't see a lot of the musicals that come to town, they don't seem to write musicals the way they used to; this one's all right, but there's not any music that you'd go out whistling, apart from that one song, you know, the one that goes "DEEEE . . . doodleoodle DEEEE . . . doodleoodle DEEEEEE . . ." and apparently somebody else entirely wrote that one. I wouldn't mind hearing that one again.

Sandra H., 40, dental technician:

My favorite part was where the homeless people dance thinking about Santa Fe. Homeless people have dreams, too. Have you ever been to Santa Fe? I was there last year. It's in the desert. It's a very spiritual place. Or am I thinking of Sedona?

Ethyl M., 73, retired Nordstrom salesperson:

Well, you know, I was a little concerned, but my girlfriends said that Ticketmaster promised no nudity and all that, so I said, "Well, what the heck, why not?" And except for some language, which you can't even go to the movies without hearing, it was perfectly sweet. Of course I couldn't understand a word, but then I had my hearing aid turned way down, but the dancing was nice. It reminded me of the Academy Awards that time. Gladys, what was that girl's name that time on the Academy Awards?

Roger D., 61, retired theater critic:

No comment.

Eric V., 36, assistant professor of English, Seattle Pacific University:

To understand Rent and the public enthusiasm for it, you have to look at the show as a late-20th-century trope on the pastoral genre, or, more accurately, anti-pastoral. As Hair presented an idealized vision of utopian community, Rent, like The Beggar's Opera, presents what appears to be a subversion of the pastoral convention, allowing the audience to mediate their appetite for sentiment through a simulacrum of ironic detachment. Northrop Frye, in his seminal Anatomy of Criticism . . .

Kimba S., 8, Overlake Elementary:

I liked it where the girl didn't die. Mommy kept telling me the girl was going to die and it was very sad, but then she didn't, and I said, "See? She didn't die."

Henry L., 47, senior draftsman, Boeing:

My wife and I have a deal, while the kid is growing up, to do at least one thing together as a family each month that isn't sports and this was it. No, I didn't like it, but I never do, so that was no surprise. But what was interesting was driving home, when she was going on as usual about how wonderful it was, trying "to get a dialogue going," she calls it, and I was going on as usual about how I don't see what's so wonderful about boys kissing boys and girls kissing girls and people waving bags of drugs around, and she was going "how typical, you take no interest in what young people today are interested in," and the kid opens his mouth for the first time all evening or maybe all week and says, "Dad's right. This sucked the big one." Which didn't do a lot for keeping the dialogue going, but I can tell you it made my day.

 
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