Bravo to Lewis Janowsky (Calendar Letters, Sept. 28). I suffered through the entirely incoherent first act of "Rent" in New York in April 1996. Nevertheless I returned for Act 2, thinking perhaps I could connect in some way. Unfortunately that didn't happen. Act 2 began with two women singing unintelligible lyrics to A Tone music. I left in despair. "Rent," like "Phantom," is a product of phenomenal hype.
Does anybody else find it ironic that on the 40th anniversary of "West Side Story's" opening on Broadway, "the juggernaut that is 'Rent' " (as Laurie Winer described it in her review, Sept. 30) opened here in Los Angeles?
"Rent" is MTV's "Real World" with less shaky-cam, only shakier characters. Imagine TV's "Doogie in the City" done "ER"-live style: Live! Rock! Artists! Anything can happen! Except it's all happened already everywhere else.
"Rent's" creator, Jonathan Larson, said his goal was to bring musicals to the MTV-ers. And critic Winer says he has "obviously succeeded in that." Hey, lissen: I lived on the Lower East Side. I did bad theater on the Lower East Side. And lemme tell you: "Rent" is no "Lower East Side Story." "West Side Story" spoke to my parents' generation, and "Hair" rocked my sisters'. But in 1997, "Rent" is a period piece. "Rent" is "Grease" with a better sound system. (OK, and fewer dorks, maybe. But only a few fewer.)