Here follows a slight diversion from my usual style of blog-post, this one will have a few more words....
In the early hours of January 25th 1996, after returning home from the final dress run of Rent at New York Theatre Workshop, Jonathan Larson collapsed and died.
Later that day, his cast and creative team gathered to sing through what was meant to be the 1st preview of Jonathan's new work - the show he had fought and struggled and wished into existence. They didn't even get to the interval before they were up on their feet and performing the show in full.
The rest, as they say, goes down in Broadway history... that production at NYTW sold out and was extended again and again and just 3 short months later the show opened at The Nederlander Theatre on Broadway where it ran for over 12years. It made stars of it's original cast and won pretty much every award going. It has played round the world, opening in London in the May of 1998...
.....and that's where I come in, I discovered Rent in October of 1998. I was new to London and didn't have many friends, so I took myself to the theatre to see a young actor I'd admired in a previous show. I was under the misapprehension that I'd probably see this show once, how wrong can one girl be?!!
Within 10minutes I was hooked, by the end of the show I had tears dripping off my face and I was on my feet cheering... this was it, this was the "thing" I needed, I felt like I had come home.
I have seen Rent 100s (I am not exagerating) of times, across 3 different continents. Every time I went to New York it was always my first evening's entertainment.
So, when my friends Katy Lipson & Guy James (two producers I've worked with many times in the last few years) decided to stage a concert in London to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Jonathan's death and to celebrate his life, there was only one place I was going to be on Monday 25th January 2016.....
Season of Larson starred (from left to right!) Damien Flood, Krysten Cummings, Noel Sullivan, Debbie Kurup & Anton Stephans, with special guest appearances from MiG Ayesa and Scarlett Silver. Directed by Grant Murphy and Gareth Bretherton it showcased Jonathan's work from the big hitters of Rent and Tick, Tick...Boom! to lesser known works that are rarely performed.
These are some of my favourite people... I met Anton 4yrs ago when we spent more time talking than taking the photo I'd been tasked to find for Children of Eden, I've known Damien & Debbie for the best part of 15yrs since they, and my best friend, toured with Rent and Krysten, well Krysten was the person who had me hooked from 10minutes into that first performance in Oct' '98, she is "my" Mimi and has performed the role around the world.
Noel was the newcomer to this bunch and I can't imagine anyone filling the shoes better, but more on that after a couple more pictures....
I could write about the whole show, but that would descend into pages and pages.... So just a few highlights...
Noel's rendition of One of These Days was masterful and should be recorded, it's a lesser-known one of Jonathan's compositions but it's instantly recognisable as his work. It's clever and funny and full of emotion, as was Noel's performance.
Hearing Debbie & Damien's version of Without You, after so long away from it, was gorgeous, I'd forgotten how much I love these two performing together.
Anton's version of I'll Cover You Reprise was a joy to behold and I'm not sure how the audience held itself together, on stage they were barely holding back the tears as well. This song is Jonathan's memorial, it says everything.
Debbie & Krysten tearing up the stage as star-crossed lovers in both Take Me Or Leave Me and Therapy was a delight and hillarious from start to finish.
And then when Krysten flung herself heart and soul into Out Tonight, the song that for me will always be hers, you couldn't have paid me to be anywhere else!!
But, oh yeah there's a but, the person who brought the house down was Damien's daughter, Scarlett, and her performance of Destination Sky, a simple song that Jonathan wrote for a children's television show.
The evening was a fitting tribute to one of the finest songwriters there is, a man who changed musical theatre in the 90s even though he never got to see it. A man who changed the lives of anyone who's ever been touched by his music and definitely the lives of this little team.
I owe huge swathes of my life to that music, if I hadn't taken that chance nearly 18yrs ago my life would be VERY different. The people I love most in this world, well they love this music as much as I do.
Thank you Jonathan Larson. Even though I never met you, you're always in my heart.
The very last note of the concert, before the audience leapt to their feet and cheered.