The Rent has been paid

City Travel, Lost Girls, New York City, Tours & Attractions — By on July 1, 2008 at 1:28 pm

I have a (sort-of) embarrassing little secret. I didn’t move to New York City for some career opportunity, to pursue a creative ambition or find the love of my life. Eight years ago, I moved to Manhattan–the Lower East Side, specifically-for a Broadway musical.

I’d seen the original Broadway cast of Rent during my first trip to NYC from Florida in 1998. I was a 19 year old sophomore on Spring Break, and from the moment the cast came out on stage and tore into the opening number, I was completely sucked in. This was New York depicted as I’d never seen it–punked out bohemian club kids squatting in some apartment, living, singing, pursuing art and experiencing life. Real life. An ironic first impression, especially considering that I was watching a musical, but I so desperately wanted to graduate into a world where creativity is divine, diversity rules and your friends become the family you chose.

Two years later, after traveling through Europe with Jen (we both jammed out to the Rent soundtrack on my CD walkman) I followed through on a promise I’d made myself and moved to NYC. While I didn’t end up becoming a performance artist in Alphabet City a la Maureen or a filmmaker like Mark, I did end up growing into myself here. I transitioned from a suited-up sales assistant to a dressed down magazine writer, moved back down to the depths of the Lower East Side after the Upper West felt too scrubbed down and sanitized for my protection. And, of course, I did find those amazing friends who knit together to make the tightest, most loving sort of family.

The reason this is all top of mind? Last night, Jen and I not only attended a private cabaret performance featuring Adam Pascal, the original Roger in Rent, we got to slip back to the green room at Feinstein’s and meet the man himself. I have to say, I have never been particularly star struck-Brat Pitt once sat at the table next to mine, chain smoking with Sean Penn, and I managed to avoid doing anything egregiously fan-stalkerish-but I had trouble acting chill around Adam. I’m pretty sure the entire time I was talking to him, I was acting like Rainman, slobbering all over myself and grinning like a fool.

Yes-he’s got one of the sexiest rocker voices in the business, a gorgeous face and an almost indecorous way with a guitar-but for some reason, meeting the guy just made me crazy nostalgic. Ooo–Roger from Rent shook my hand! Roger from Rent is talking to me! Roger from Rent is posing with me for a picture! My co-worker Karen grabbed the poor guy and forced him to listen to Lost Girls travel tales (um, yes, seriously!) but he graciously took everything in stride. Guess we weren’t quite as bad as the heckler who almost had to be booted from the show for bad behavior.

Jen and I left the performance at Feinstein’s and sang our lungs out in the streets for a full 15 blocks. People walking past barely gave us a second glance. Giddy and delirious (and yes, perhaps a bit toasty on a bottle of wine), we both got the strange sensation that the clock had turned backwards and we were 23 years old again–brand new in New York City with nothing but the fullest expectations for our New York futures. The high lasted until I finally collapsed into bed last night, and the wine giddiness has long since worn off. But even today, I’m still feeling little buzzed…

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    1 Comment

  • sarahcentric says:

    Ohhhh,I know that feeling! I was a theater major in college and I have so many amazing memories associated with that music. I remember being tipsy on labatt’s blue and bumming cigarettes from my musical theater major singer friends who definitely should not have been smoking… singing our faces off and strategizing about how to get to NY to see “Rent” for the tenth time.

    I practically cried my face off during the Tonys a couple of weeks ago, when the original cast sang with the current Rent cast as a goodbye to the show that is CLOSING! And here I am 32, living in Queens…where in the hell does the time go? I guess that’s the New York Minute I’ve heard so much about.

    Like this entry and love this blog. Keep it up!

    -Sarah