Jonathan Larson: Creator of RENT
"How do you figure a last year on Earth?"
Many people think of RENT as prophetic; such lyrics as "No Day but Today" and "Dying in America at the end of the millenium" perfectly describe Jonathan Larson's death. Less than 18 hours before the first performance of RENT, he was found dead in his flat, unexpectedly dying of an aortic aneurysm.
He wanted to change the way of musical theatre into that of "Hair" and "Jesus Christ Superstar", and he never got the chance to see that RENT had done just that.
It wasn't his idea in the first place - he was approached by a young playwright who wanted to do a modern version of the opera "La Boheme". When it wasn't appearing to work out, he continued it himself. After many painstaking drafts and near-failures, RENT was finally finished with the help of director Michael Greif and dramaturg Lynn Thompson.
After his death, the first performance was naturally postponned, and there was a memorable sing-through instead. By the second act, it had become the show, not simply a sing-through, with the actors, lighting and sound technicians slowly picking up the cues; they couldn't contain themselves.
Since then, RENT has won many awards, including the 1996 Tony Award for best musical. It's just so sad that Jonathan Larson missed his dream coming true.