Fans line up to see "Rent" last time on Broadway

Fri Sep 5, 2008 12:56pm EDT
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By Claudia Parsons

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jeanne Hopkins flew all the way from California to line up to put her name in a lottery for a $20 ticket to see one of the last Broadway performances of the hit musical "Rent," which closes on Sunday after 12 years.

The award-winning 1996 musical chronicles the struggles of a group of young artists in New York and was groundbreaking in bringing topics such as AIDS into the mainstream.

"I came specifically to New York to see this," said Hopkins, 52. "I know nobody in New York City so these people are my friends. I came to say goodbye to them."

"Every time I come to New York I see it," Hopkins said on Thursday, adding that she plans to name her next dog Mimi after a character in the show.

"Rent" was the first Broadway show to start the practice of selling same-day orchestra seats for $20 in a lottery that allowed die-hard fans, dubbed "Rentheads" in the theater world, to come back again and again.

Set in New York's East Village in the late 1980s and conceived as a modern-day version of Giacomo Puccini's opera "La Boheme," "Rent" is a story about relationships between friends living a bohemian life under the shadow of AIDS.

Rodney Fullmer, a 26-year-old medical student from Chicago, said he and his girlfriend had seen the show six or seven times and he was lining up for one more chance.

"It's so real, so many people can relate to it," Fullmer said. "AIDS is still a real thing, in New York alone its rates are sky-rocketing, so it's a message anybody can relate to.   Continued...

<p>The original cast (front) of the musical "Rent" lines up on stage at the 62nd Annual Tony Awards in New York, June 15, 2008. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn</p>