How do you measure the impact of writer-composer Jonathan Larson '82? By the sheer numbers of people over the years who have been moved and inspired by Larson's groundbreaking musical RENT, including actress-singer Vanessa Hudgens and Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator and star of the Broadway smash hit Hamilton.
How do you measure the impact of writer-composer Jonathan Larson ’82? By the sheer numbers of people over the years who have been moved and inspired by Larson’s groundbreaking musical RENT, including actress-singer Vanessa Hudgens and Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator and star of the Broadway smash hit Hamilton.
On Sunday, January 27, 2019, Fox TV will air a much-anticipated live performance of RENT at 8:00 p.m. Leading up to the big event, the network announced online: “To spread the excitement about RENT coming to Fox, we’re launching a nationwide virtual sing-along choir.”
Fans were asked to post videos of themselves singing along to “Seasons of Love,” with the hashtag #RentSingALong, and the best performances would be compiled into what the network calls “one gigantic choral RENT-stravaganza of talent.”
Of course, Adelphi’s theater majors were up for the challenge. After all, who else could perform seated on the bench, now in the Adelphi University Performing Arts Center (Adelphi PAC), where Larson composed his magnum opus in the East Village’s Life Café?
Juniors Greg Carey, Patricia Mills, Karleigh Giguere and Joanna Georghiouour submitted their video. Fellow theater major Athena Priftakis also performed and uploaded a solo video to her YouTube channel. Both videos were selected to be included in the sing-along—you can see Carey, Mills, Giguere and Georghiouour in the Adelphi PAC at :40 seconds, immediately followed by Priftakis.
Now studying in London for the semester, Priftakis said, “I submitted my video because the song really honors Jonathan’s legacy. What is a legacy? ‘Seasons of Love’ explains this perfectly. A life well lived is a life where you love fully. Jonathan Larson did just that, and it is shown not only in his work but in the people who knew him. The Department of Theatre at Adelphi University is a place where his story is even more personal because we are surrounded by the people who influenced him and a place that inspired him to create meaningful art that highlighted an issue [the AIDS crisis] others were sweeping under the rug. RENT is a timeless classic because there will always be people who dare to challenge a community where they don’t feel heard. ‘La Vie Bohème’! Long live the resistance!”
One of the Adelphi “people” Priftakis mentioned who was a major influence on Larson is Nicholas Petron, M.A. ’70, professor and chair of the Department of Theatre. Petron noted that in addition to the live broadcast, Larson fans can read about “Jon’s time at Adelphi,” in Boho Days: The Wider Works of Jonathan Larson by J. Collis (Collis, 2018) and look forward to the upcoming film production of Tick, Tick…Boom! by Hamilton creator Miranda.
The sing-along video is just one of several the network posted leading up to the live event. In another, “A Tribute to Jonathan Larson,” Jordan Fisher, who will portray Mark Cohen, says RENT “was a dream of [Larson’s] and became something so special and moved generations, and will—for years to come.”
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