Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rereads and RENT

I like reading books over again for the same reason I like to watch movies again and again. Because it's like meeting up with an old friend. There's a certain comfort that comes from revisiting a story; it's familiar and it feels comfortable. Maybe some parts you forgot and you get to rediscover. Other parts continue to excite you just like the first time you read them. And still others begin to make sense in new ways each time you return. You get to catch up, as if you're chatting over coffee with a friend from the past, get reacquainted and learn what's new.

I recently reread Anthony Rapp's memoir Without You. I first read this book my freshman year in college, following the wake of release of the movie version of RENT. Anthony Rapp, in case you didn't know, originated the role of Mark Cohen in Jonathan Larson's rock opera, RENT. A show that went from a workshop performance to a sold-out, long-running Broadway phenomenon.

I first discovered RENT through its music. Being a theatre kid in high school, I was always coming across the CDs for various shows. I grew to love the music and then was privileged enough to see the live show as a birthday present. By the time the movie came out, I was a full blown Renthead (what they call RENT fans). So when I found out one of the stars had written a memoir about his life and RENT, I had to get my hands on it. I remember sitting in my dorm room or on the quad on sunny, May days relishing in Rapp's writing. It was fascinating, especially after seeing the movie version oh, about 100 times, to get an insider perspective of the show.

It's been about four years since I first cracked open the book binding of Without You, which wasreleased in 2006. Flash forward to now and me having run out of something to read. I've taken to perusing my sister's bookshelf when I run out of thing to read on my own, andstumbled across her copy of this memoir. I picked it up and considered it. Since my first reading, I had the privilege of seeing both Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal (Broadway's original Roger Davis) reprise their roles on the stage for a touring company. Not only that, but my life has changed in many, many ways and I was intrigued to see how reading Without You now would affect me.

I was still awed by Rapp's personal journeys as well as the journey of RENT. But I was also able to better relate to the subject of loss and the grieving period that must be allowed. In different ways, I've survived more loss than I had prior (of course, as it's a part of growing up and growing stronger) so I connected more strongly with Rapp as he suffered. But I excited to reread through my favorite parts. Some parts I didn't remember, so I got to experience a whole new reaction. It's always nice to travel back every once in a while to revisit the oldies but goodies and interweave them in with the new and fresh.

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