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Back in 1996, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony winning musical RENT opened on Broadway, where Tamara and I had the chance to see the original cast perform this powerful rock musical.

It became a favorite almost immediately.

In 2005, most of the original cast was reunited to film a $40 million film version that didn't do well in theatres, but serves as a great capture of the theatre experience.

Seeing it 12 years later for the first time in as many years, Tamara and I loved it and it brought back a ton of great NYC memories.

Playwright, music and lyrics creator Jonathan Larson based his tale on Puccini's opera La Boheme, bringing in actual themes and lyrics from the opera, while creating something completely new in the rock genre.

We meet a group of struggling young friends in the East Village of New York City, battling drug addiction, AIDS and complicated love lives.

Anthony Rapp is Mark, a young filmmaker documenting their lives for a film he may never complete, Adam Pascal is Roger, a young rocker battling AIDS and drug abuse and missing his girlfriend that died the year before, making him a recluse.

The always great Idina Menzel is Maureen, a performance artist and former lover of Mark's, now in love with attorney Joanne, perfectly played and sung by Tracie Thoms.

Jesse L. Martin of "Law & Order: is their friend Tom Collins, who arrives each Christmas Eve at their loft to catch up. Tom meets Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia) and brings him into the fold, while they all battle their wealthy friend Benjamin (Taye Diggs) who has married wealthy and now wants to convert the block into a high tech media center.

The rock songs and rock ballads are excellent, including "Seasons of Love", "Light My Candle", "Life Support" and "La Vie Boheme" and the terrific "Tango Maureen", which is exploded here into a hilarious dream sequence.

Director Chris Columbus (the "Harry Potter" series, "Home Alone" and "The Goonies") may seem on the surface like an odd fit for the edgy material, but he does a great job with the heart of the story and the life and death struggles of these characters.

There are some great laughs throughout and many powerful moments as the friends deal with the early days of AIDS in NYC, their own addictions and failures.

The cast is great. Rosario Dawson is a standout as Mimi, a young dancer at the "Cat Scratch" club losing her battle with drugs and her search for something better with Roger.

RENT isn't for everyone. Traditional musical fans wont like its harder rock edge. Conservative viewers will be offended by its frank sexuality and gender bending characters, but Larson is telling a basic story about the importance of love that transcends any boundary.

There's no day but today.

On stage back in 2005, or re-visiting the film in 2017, the message is as powerful as ever.

RENT gets an A.

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