As with many Broadway phenomenons, I didn’t see this in its original run. Instead, I had to wait until it got to L.A., without the original cast, but amazingly, with Neil Patrick Harris who played Mark Cohen. It wasn’t a big deal at the time (that guy from “Doogie Howser”???), but the show was so sturdy and songs so amazing that it proved that other casts could make the show fly.
The closest the rest of us mortals could get to the NYTW and Broadway productions with the original cast (Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Jesse L. Martin, Taye Diggs!) was through the original cast album. And knowing that the world out there who heard about this remarkable show due to the tragic death of Jonathan Larson would be clamoring to hear it, the producers smartly took their time, produced it meticulously, with songs in full and not truncated, spread over two CDs. This was far from the one-day, sing-till-you’re-hoarse cast album recordings such as the one chronicled in D.A. Pennebaker’s film about “Company”.
And the songs are worth it. All of them. There isn’t one dud. There may be a few wince-inducing lyrics, but that is most likely because Larson died before he could perfect his masterpiece. But come on, all in one show? “Rent”, “One Song Glory”, “Light My Candle”, “Out Tonight”, “Another Day”, “WIll I?”, “I’ll Cover You”, “Take Me Or Leave Me”, “What You Own”, and of course two songs they featured in their Tony’s performance, “Seasons of Love” with “La Vie Boeheme”.