Sunday 9 June 2024

How do you measure a year in the life?

Like most elder millenials with an interest in musical theatre, I was raging RENThead through the better part of a decade in my younger years. Strangely enough, I didn't get into it the first time I listened to the cast recording on CD (back in the day) - I thought it sounded rough and disjointed compared to a lot of the other musicals that I'd come to know at the time.

But two songs changed all that: La vie Boheme and Seasons of Love. The first tapped straight into my life surrounded by share-house-living, anti-authoritarian, philosophically curious, creatively driven students, and the second was a simple chorus song that would become the anthem of my generation.

I never saw RENT when it first came to Australia as a professional production. By the time the film came out, I was already hooked, and then in February 2006 the non-professional Victorian premiere hit Melbourne. Pretty much everybody in the Melbourne musical theatre community auditioned. A few people I knew got in. It was an amazing experience seeing what was at the time my favourite musical, finally live on stage. That was almost 20 years ago.

Last November, tickets went on sale for a professional touring season of RENT coming to Canberra. It's unusual for me to snap up tickets at the earliest possibility, Swiftie-style, but in this case I was determined to get the best tickets possible (for me, at the Canberra Theatre, it's around Row E, no. 20). 

And then, on Thursday, I got a message through my musical theatre channels. The producers wanted to get a bunch of locals to come along to opening night, and in the beginning of Act 2, sing Seasons of Love with the cast. I jumped at the opportunity.

And that's how I came to see RENT at two consecutive shows. They were both unforgettable experiences - the first for the opportunity to participate as part of the audience, and the second to see it from some of the best seats, witnessing every move, every facial expression, down to the tears in performers' eyes during the most emotional scenes.

It also reconnected me with a part of myself that I've perhaps forgotten for a little while - that idealistic young man who had perhaps an endless drive for creativity and making the most of every day.

There's only us, there's only this.
Forget regret, or life is yours to miss.
No other road, no other way,
No day but today.

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