When Jonathan Larson’s Rent debuted on Broadway in 1996, there was one thing all audiences could agree on: It was a totally unorthodox entry into the world of musical theater. The show jeered at the very notion of conventional storytelling. Its musical numbers were scrappy and loose. It embraced awkward pauses and performances. Most significantly, it unabashedly presented those affected by the AIDS epidemic with optimism and humanity in a time when vilification was far more common. And it was utterly beloved.
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