If you went to high school during the ’90s, you might know the type: striped scarves, plaid pants, colored mascara, unwashed hair and other aesthetic nods to “la vie bohÃ¨me.” They were Rent-heads, and, after the musical smash hit opened in 1996, they were everywhere.
The high-school hipsters weren’t the only ones who noticed the show. After its debut, the musical walked away with ten Tony nominations (winning four of them, including Best Musical), ten Drama Desk nominations (winning six), and the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
Now, after 12 years, Rent is slated to close on June 1. This news especially resonates in Westchester—and not just among those Rent-heads—since the county has many connections to the show.
For starters, playwright Jonathon Larson is a local, born in Mount Vernon and raised in White Plains. Rumor has it that he was called the “Piano Man” at White Plains High School.
Adam Pascal, the original Roger, also lived in Mount Vernon up until 2006. Now he’s living out in L.A., but he made time to chat on the phone about the show’s closing.
Upon hearing the news that the show was closing, “I was surprised, and I wasn’t, if that makes any sense,” he says. “I knew it was coming, but when I got the news it still came as a shock.”
Pascal got a chance to revisit the musical when he and co-star Anthony Rapp returned to the roles they created for a slate of dates last summer. He says that the time between stints as Roger as good for him—and the play. “I certainly changed,” he says. “I came back with more perspective, and I was a better performer and a better singer. In that regards, it was much easier. There was also so much emotional baggage during the original run that it wasn’t always that much fun to do. When I returned, that baggage was gone and it was just a joy to do.”
As for life outside the county, Pascal says he isn’t gone long enough to miss us. “My musical writing partner lives in Peekskill, so I’m there all the time,” he says. “When I’m in New York, I stay with him. I love Westchester. If we ever move back to New York, we’ll probably end up back there.”
That musical partner he’s referring to is Larry Edoff, and if you’re intrigued as to what it might sound like, thankfully you won’t have to wait too long. The project, which is simply called “Me and Larry” (I had to ask twice: “Is that ‘Adam Pascal and Larry?” and he said, “No, just ‘Me and Larry'”), will have an album out this spring. I’ll give you details as soon as I know them.