Lessons Learned

March 30, 2008 at 8:03 pm | Posted in Church, Family, Friends, Fun Times, Music | 21 Comments

Last night me and two girlfriends went to go see one of our favorite shows, RENT. I was lucky enough to see it on Broadway during our Christmas vacation, so seeing it done by the National Tour was a must as well. With that show it does not matter if you sit in the 3rd row or the 103rd row, it is so touching and meaningful every time. There is something so amazing about seeing it in real life that keeps Rentheads all over returning again and again

Anwar Robinson of American Idol fame is currently playing Tom Collins, and he was amazing. It is so great to see different interpretations of the script as well. They actually added some descriptive dialogue. I wondered why they did that. I would imagine it would be helpful for people who just happen upon the show without any prior knowledge of the plot. But for those of us who know the entire show pretty much word for word, it caught us off guard.

The Rentheads obviously held down a ton of seats. There was a lot of mooing in the house. And it does not matter where you see this show, when Angel makes his performance for Today 4 You, it is always a huge crowd favorite. Kristin Alexander Griffith portrayed Angel and he did it very well. Props to a guy who can jump five feet down a ladder in six inch heels.

Of course it was as emotionally stirring and heartwarming as it always is. Anwar’s rendition of I’ll Cover You began my sniffles and it continued all the way through the finale. I tried to hold back because I can’t really see well when I cry, and I didn’t want to miss a second of the show, but there was no going back. Amz had to leave and get us some tissue and I am indebted to her for keeping me from leaving the performance hall without a streaked face.

For me, no one will ever compare to Anthony Rapp or Idina Menzel playing Mark and Maureen, but this cast did well. Of course the whole of the show reigned true to Jonathon Larson’s vision. It never ceases to amaze me how we all relate to such different characters, even when we see them portrayed by such different people.

For me, I will always relate to Mimi and Mark the most. Mark is the epitome of a person who longs for his own community. I have always shared his sentiment because like him, when I was away from my extended family all of my life, I chose to cling to those who I made into my adopted family. My parents were the only children who chose to leave the town in which they grew up. My cousins all grew up literally in my grandparents’ back yard. We were the grandkids who were only seen on Christmases and an occasional summer. We were never able to be there all the time and experience full time grandparents. So, like Mark, the people who I chose to be friends with became my family. The same thing happened for me when I left for college. Hundreds of miles away from family I clung to people who became important to me. Even today I am closer to my selected friends than I am to most family members. It is not just a matter of geographic location, but of allied and non-allied thought, of shared ambition, and of mutual respect. My ultimate fear is to be alone without my “family.” Like Mark, I am afraid that at the end I may be standing alone with only my digital pictures of good times past. This keeps me motivated to remain highly in touch with those I love. Any time I am in the car I call someone significant to me who is far away. I must remain connected to those I love, no matter the miles.

Mimi’s story is also something I can strangely relate to. No, I have never been (or plan to be) a junkie stripper, but her story reminds me of what I could be without a God and family and friends who have loved me and supported me throughout my life. I am so thankful to so many people who chose to teach me right from wrong, instruct me in self-respect, and at the same time allow me to choose my own path and trust me to make the right decisions. Without those things I would have most likely been just like Mimi. Alone, addicted, dying from my past and searching for someone, anyone who could love me.

The whole story reminds me that I am a very blessed person. I have never had to struggle to eat, to live, to remain healthy. I have never had to feel ostracized, hated, or ignored. I have never felt the abandonment or the fear of sickness or homelessness. I have never had to watch those I love die in a way in which I could bring them no comfort.

It also serves as a reminder to those of us of faith. One of the most gut-wrenching moments in the entire show is when the priest throws Collins out of the church and calls him an awful name because he cannot pay for Angel’s funeral. Unfortunately, this is the way the church is portrayed, though it is not inaccurate. Our churches have become a place of judgement, of standard. We choose who we let in and who we accept without looking at what service and hope we can offer those who come to us in their time of need. I think the church as a whole is so caught up in taking a stance on what they are against that they forget that they are the ones who are supposed to be there for everyone who is hurting, who is lost, who is searching. It is a reminder to those of us who want to show a God of love that we have a lot of ground to make up to a lot of people. We have so many wounds to heal, so many people still to accept and to love. If you feel ostracized by the church or by Christians in general, I implore you to find a church who will love you, lift you up, show you hope, and love you for who you are and not how you can suit up and show up on Sunday morning. The things that matter are that God is a God of love and we are all his children and He wants us all. I am sad that it took a musical to remind me of that, but it did.

RENT should open up your eyes to a whole new world of people. People who may be different from you,  believe different things, live different lives. People who all happen to be sharing this earth that God gave us. It is a reminder to love everyone, even those you may not feel you can relate to or understand them. I think it is surprising where we can find love and someone we can relate to.

“To being an us for once, instead of a them.”

That is one of my favorite lines in the whole show. We all just want to feel love, accepted, and respected. So many problems and conflicts of this world could be resolved if we could just stop seeing people as a “them” and allow them into our lives and become an “us.”

525, 600 minutes.

I only hope I am doing the best with mine.




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  1. A-MEN!!!! I wholeheartedly agree!! It is all about accepting and embracing differences!!

  2. This was a great post Tipp. Thanks for reminding me that my life is rich.

  3. You’ll probably hate me for saying this, but I’ve never seen Rent! Not even the movie version… SORRY!! I know I really should, though.

    By the way, I see you’re reading Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. I read that a couple years ago and couldn’t put it down. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  4. I really do want to see this. Too bad Idina isn’t still doing any of the shows. I saw her in Wicked and absolutely loved her. I’ll have to get out soon and see this. By the way… you’re tagged for a memoir.

  5. This is such a poignant post. I saw Rent on Broadway the year after it opened and again a few years later. It’s about time that I saw it again, I think.

  6. love it!

  7. I absolutely love Rent for what it stands for, for what it says, just the all over good vibe and message. And the music of course! Long live Rent!!!

  8. I have never had the chance to see rent!! I’ve seen the movie, but know that it’s def just not the same… I really love the show though, and am desparate to see it!!

  9. I love Rent. Woohoo!

    That is all.

  10. I saw Rent 3 years ago, I loved it!!
    Glad you had a good time! 🙂

  11. I’m still kicking myself for not seeing Rent when it came to Seattle last year. I am just hoping and praying I can make it to NYC before it closes.

    This was a beautiful post, and it really gave me chills. I think what is so wonderful about Rent is that there really are so many ways to relate and identify with certain characters or story lines. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!

  12. I really should go see Rent…I’ve never seen it, but I’ve always heard a lot about it. Great post though, and it definitely makes me want to go see it that much more next time it’s in town.

  13. Amz- Again, thanks for the tissue.

    Jane- I am easily caught up in my own life and need constant reminders that I am really blessed too.

    Angela- stop what you are doing and GO GET IT. Get the one with the bonus features and watch the documentary on Jonathon Larson’s life. You will get it so more clearly. I didn’t finish Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, but I loved Wicked!

    Britini- I KNOW, Idina is irreplaceable! I am working on my meme!

    Jess- I never get sick of it! They are extending through September on Broadway- I would highly suggest it!

    Robin- ditto girl, thanks for coming by!

    1218- I am so sad it is closing, but it WILL live on!

    Blood red- it really is not the same, so much energy when you see it live!

    Stephanie – that really is all that needs to be said. Thanks for coming by!

    Dana- Thanks!

    Wickedly Scarlett- I love to give people the chills. Rent alone will do that to you!

    AYWTC?- Stop what you are doing and go now!

  14. black google, there’s NOTHING cooler than that. maybe if we can’t get the whole world to do earth hour again, we can all try to reduce our energy bill this month? i’m going for 5 bucks cheaper. Oh YEAH!

  15. Wow! It’s been 20 years or so since I have seen a musical!!! Thank you for reminding me of the magic that these performances bring and the messages they carry for all of us!

  16. I’m horrible too, I’ve never seen the play or the movie. I’d love to, I think…

    I feel that same twinge when tell people that I’ve never read or watch anything Harry Potter related.

  17. man this just makes me want to see rent in person, i’ve only seen the movie and i loved it. love it.

  18. Tipp – i’m glad you had a great time! I hope I can see it again very soon 🙂

  19. Robin- seriously, it was so neat to see! For a minute I thought, oh my gosh my computer is going to crash, but it was just engenious google!

    Ardin- wow, go see it!

    Jaclyn- I have GOT to do the Harry Potter series, it is a must for me too!

    Katelin- It is closing soon, I would highly recommend it!

    Teri- thanks girl, I know you have been busy, welcome back to the blogosphere!

  20. Thanks for your comment. I love Rent too! My husband took me to see it on Broadway last year just after Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp returned to the show. It was his first time seeing a show, but I’ve been a theatre junkie for years. He loved it, and I was more excited than I’ve probably ever been (other than when he proposed)! I’d seen a touring version before, but he had only seen the movie. Now I’m making it my mission to bring theatre into his life. So far we’ve seen one show (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change), and we’re seeing a high school production of Les Miserables (I love the show so I’ll give the kids a chance) next weekend.

  21. […] March started with me breaking Hubby’s heart. Don’t touch a man’s stuff without permission, especially his mixed tapes. I finally stopped ignoring all the signs and quit my job. It was the best thing I have EVER done. We took a snow day and I almost killed the Hubby in a fit of tax-related stress. The five year anniversary of the war in Iraq hit me hard and I wrote my favorite post to date. It has opened many doors which I am very excited about. I ended my emotionally charged month of change by crying my eyes out with two girlfriends at our favorite show. […]

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