When Rent opened on Broadway in 1996, it was an immediate hit. The gritty, provocative musical about a tight-knit group of NYC dwellers won the Tony Award for Best Musical and ran for 12 years. In 2005 the show was made into a feature film starring several members of the original Broadway cast, including Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs and Anthony Rapp. Now, Rent is back home in NYC, with an off-Broadway run opening this summer.
The show will be directed by Michael Greif, who directed the original production, but there’s an exciting new member on the creative team: choreographer Larry Keigwin. DS chatted with Keigwin about how he plans to bring a fresh style to the rock operetta.
DS: How’d you get involved in the Rent revival?
Larry Keigwin: I have a little angel in my life, Jeffrey Seller. He’s been a champion of my work for a long time, and he was one of the original producers for Rent. He was also one of the producers for The Wild Party, which I performed in about a decade ago. Since then he has followed my career, and he called me out of the blue a few months ago asking if I wanted to do Rent.
DS: How familiar were you with the show before you started working on it?
LK: I met with Jeffrey and [director] Michael Greif after that original phone call and they asked me if I had seen the show. They immediately said, “If you haven’t seen it, don’t worry, we want to do things a little differently this time. We’d love to have a different voice and vision.” I had seen the show once before, though, when it was on Broadway several years ago. As soon as they offered me a contract I started gathering information about the show and playing around with ideas with my KEIGWIN + COMPANY dancers.
DS: How will this production be different from the Rent we all know and love?
LK: I’m trying to bring more physical energy into the show. I want the cast members traveling through space more. I love the idea of it being like a rock concert and treating the set as a jungle gym that everyone will interact with. It’s going to be energetic and engaging.
Rent begins previews at NYC’s New World Stages July 14.