Why Did 'Rent' Leave Broadway? The Iconic Show's Producer Hoped for More Revivals

'Rent's' reimagined performance by Deaf Broadway came 16 years after gave its final curtain call on Broadway in 2008.

Elizabeth Randolph - Author

Apr. 3 2024, Published 11:43 a.m. ET

Curtain Call with Original Cast during "Rent" Celebrates 10th Anniversary on Broadway - April 24, 2006 at The Nederlander Theater in New York, New York, United States. (
Source: Getty Images

In New York City, the '80s and '90s eras were consumed by grit, fear, and loss. At the time, the HIV/AIDS epidemic had begun being ignored by many due to it taking the lives of countless people within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Amid the real-life tragedies affecting the world at the time, Jonathan Larson wrote the book for the musical before dying of an aortic aneurysm the day of Rent's off-Broadway debut.

Rent became a massive hit and soon found its home at the Nederlander Theatre on Broadway.

Article continues below advertisement

Additionally, it spawned stars like Taye Diggs, Idina Menzel, and Jesse L. Martin, and a 2005 movie and Broadway taping to boot.

Though Broadway shows are ever-changing, Rent had maintained its star power before it closed its curtains in 2008.

In 2024, the show returned to the Great White Way for a reimagined version of the cult classic. Still, many need help figuring out why Rent ever closed on Broadway in the first place.

'Rent' cast singing
Source: Getty Images
Article continues below advertisement

Why did 'Rent' leave Broadway?

Rent opened on Broadway on April 29, 1996, with Idina, Taye, Jesse, Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Fredi Walker Browne, Daphne Rubin Vega, and Wilson Jermaine Heredia rounding out the main original Broadway cast. The show remained at the Nederlander for 12 years, debuting a total of 5,124 shows and changing the face of Broadway forever.

In addition to the show being held at one of the most scoffed-at houses on Broadway, Rent stood out for giving out same-day $20 front-row tickets to accommodate the young, frugal creatives who lived similarly to Jonathan. The $20 tickets later became a lottery synonymous with catching Rent live. Despite the success, Rent's final show occurred on Sept. 7, 2008, to its fans' dismay.

Article continues below advertisement

In a 2008 write-up about the closing on Today, they stated Rent, like many other Broadway hits like Cats, "have a finite life, a beginning and, no matter how successful, an end." The show had also been competing with other successful shows then, including Wicked, The Lion King, and Legally Blonde: The Musical (don't act like you weren't seated for the Legally Blonde taping on MTV!). Nonetheless, one of Rent's producers, Allan S. Gordon, declared the closing wasn't "the end of Rent" and hinted at a revival.

Article continues below advertisement

"Rent is recorded for history, so it's not like it's disappearing off the map," he said. "Hmmm, maybe I should bring back a revival next year."

Article continues below advertisement

Deaf Broadway revived 'Rent' with an ASL-centered show in New York City.

Sixteen years after Rent closed its doors on Broadway, the show received the revival Allan S. Gordon previously manifested. In March 2024, HuffPost reported Rent's return to the stage through Deaf Broadway's one-night performance.

The show debuted on Monday, April 1, 2024, and featured an entire cast of deaf performers from the New York theater group, including Only Murders in the Building actor James Caverly in the lead role of Mark Cohen.

Article continues below advertisement

Deaf Broadway's "groundbreaking iteration" of Rent was the brainchild of the theater group's artistic director, Garrett Zuercher. Garrett, who identifies as a gay and deaf man, said he was honored to center deaf performers and prove that "deaf people can lead,” and said the cast was "proving the rest of the industry wrong" through their take on the iconic show.

Article continues below advertisement

"One big thing about Rent is that ― in this world that Jonathan Larson created ― if you’re different, it’s OK,” the producer told HuffPost. “These people, these characters, love and support each other. They celebrate who they are, and that’s exactly what I was looking for.”

While Deaf Broadway's production of Rent was only for one night, Garrett said he was "hopeful" there would be more. I personally will take as many "Viva La Vie Boheme's" as possible, please, and thanks!

More from Distractify

Latest Entertainment News and Updates

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    © Copyright 2024 Distractify. Distractify is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.