Daphne Rubin-Vega, Mimi: I was in this Latino comedy troupe called El Barrio, USA. Adam Pascal, Roger: I was working as a personal trainer. . Menzel: So yeah, we met, we started dating, we moved in together nine months into our Rent . For many '90s teens, Daphne Rubin-Vega was the ultimate It Girl—a Rapp and Adam Pascal to celebrate the show's 20 th Anniversary. Broadway stars Adam Pascal and Daphne Rubin-Vega - the original "Roger" and "Mimi" from Broadway's RENT- come together for a concert.
I have to be honest — I barely remember that speech. I wasn't hanging on every word going, ''This guy's gonna die, and the show's gonna become huge. And I was like, ''Where's the wine? The first day of rehearsal, we sang ''Seasons of Love,'' and I said to myself, ''Well, if this is some junk, it's gonna be some of the best-sounding junk you've ever heard.
There was this myth that we were all 12 years old, and had been eating garbage in the East Village, and they put us on stage. The majority of people were well versed in the art of the thea-tah. Everybody was very intelligent, ridiculously talented. These were not the type of theater folks that I had been exposed to in the past. We weren't talking about the latest Steven Sondheim musical on our lunch break. We'd have real conversations about real s I always wonder if it seems hyperbolic to people who weren't there.
We all just came in that room and did our best. And Michael Greif, I feel, has never gotten enough credit for making that environment possible. What was great about Michael is, he wasn't pretentious in any way. There were a bunch of things about that show that I didn't get — words that people were using, drugs that we were talking about that I'd never heard of.
And he was so gracious and generous and just explained it to us. We had a damn good time in rehearsal, and you know when you're having a damn good time in rehearsal. It was very clear that things were clicking. Jonathan was very happy with that. Jonathan was so excited you couldn't help but be excited about it, even when you didn't really know what's going on. Like, ''Okay, it's gonna be awesome! I don't know what we're doing, but it's gonna be awesome!
Jonathan knew he wanted to have a solo in ''Seasons of Love,'' and he kind of left it up to me to make up what I wanted to make up. I stood at the piano and kind of closed my eyes and started riffing. I don't read music, so I didn't actually know how many bars of music there were. I just kept singing and singing, and Tim [Weil, the musical director] stopped playing, and he says, ''Well, there's not that much music.
We took a lunch break, and Jonathan walked with me and a couple of the other cast members to Tompkins Square Park. He was all excited about the progress of the show, and he had just quit his job at the diner. We got sandwiches from a deli and sat in the park. It was just a really great moment, to sit with the composer in the heart of the East Village, surrounded by the people we were playing.
There was a huge blizzard that year that kind of stopped everything. We were walking in the middle of the street and throwing snowballs at each other, and Jonathan was totally taking it in.
I just thought, ''He wants to be here. I could tell that he respected all of us a great deal. We were two, three weeks into rehearsal before a couple of the songs in the second act were finished.
Jonathan came in and taught me and Fredi ''Take Me or Leave Me'' a couple days before previews, and we performed it for the cast for the first time. That's when Taye said he felt really attracted to me. Like, ''Wow, this girl can really sing. She doesn't really have a role, and she just sits there with her big boobies and her crazy curly hair, and what is she doing here?
We had our rehearsals blocked off in chunks, and she was in the rehearsal room before me. I came a little early, and I remember hearing her sing.
I mean, she was getting down. And it made me start to cry, because she was so committed and so good. I had never heard her sing before. So yeah, we met, we started dating, we moved in together nine months into our Rent contracts, and then we got married eight years later. They were pretty quiet about it at first. I wasn't even aware until they were well into it. But there was a lot of hooking up.
They weren't the only story going there. He was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with food poisoning.
Two days later, feeling ill, he again went to the hospital and was told he had the flu. At Rent's final dress rehearsal on Jan. It was really the first time that we had put the show together. It was a great night, though. I remember people seemed so into it, audience-wise. That NYTW space is great to work in, because you're face to face with the audience. There's no real space in between. So you could see what was going on. You could feel it.
And it was pretty awesome. When I came out from backstage, I was looking for Jon, just to say hi, and give him a hug. He was standing to the side, surrounded by people. People were clamoring to talk to him. And I was like, ''Oh, I'll see him tomorrow.
He died in the middle of the night. The day of Rent's first public performance — Jan. An autopsy revealed Larson had died of an aortic aneurysm. It's not like he's an aged composer and we knew he was ill.
It was totally random. He'd fainted like two weeks before, and we all thought, ''Oh, well, he had food poisoning. He puked and passed out. And then we had our first dress rehearsal and he gets interviewed by the New York Times — and dies. Goes home, makes a cup of tea, dies. We were living in Albuquerque. At 5 in the morning, I was awakened by a phone call. It was Chuck [Jonathan's brother-in-law], and he says, ''Jonny's dead.
We were on an 8 a. We just started calling people, [and] we told them if they wanted to they could just come to the theater. We had food, and we were all together for the day. Jim Nicola called me at home and told me that Jonathan had passed, and I said, ''Well, I'm supposed to meet Daphne to walk over to rehearsal, so I'll call her. Jim left a message — just, ''We need to talk to you. Gwen was staying with me.
And we were in the bathroom doing the girl thing, talking about nails or whatever it was, and that phone rang. And after that we both just sat in that bathroom, totally messed up. I felt like we were these little animals huddled together after a hurricane. I remember people in the company sobbing, and I remember thinking, Now there's an extra kind of purpose attached to what we do. We're, like, ambassadors of this funk. The majority of my relationship with Jonathan existed in the rehearsal room.
I didn't experience the loss of a loved one as his loved ones did. The pain I felt was for my friends who I could see were suffering so bad. I remember being very annoyed. People were weeping uncontrollably, and it made me uncomfortable. I wanted to be away from everyone, and just deal with the weirdness of the situation on my own.
I remember wishing that I had known him better, too. Because the people that did know him were so grossly affected by his loss that I almost felt a bit like a fraud. I kind of regret that selfishness that I felt at the time. We sat in a circle, and decided to cancel the preview that night. We were just gonna do a sing-through, no costumes.
It was family and friends only in the audience that night. But it was full. The company wanted to do something for the family. So very reluctantly, we headed downtown. This was in heavy snow — I remember pushing through snow piles up to my knees and higher.
ZACH Theatre Welcomes RENT's Adam Pascal and Daphne Rubin-Vega in Concert Tonight
They started out seated at the three tables. There was, like, water, and cups on the tables. Like some sort of strange conference. I just remember the room was so heavy. I kept complaining that I felt like I had a cookie stuck in my throat. You know, in the staged version, we'd be at these tables. And there we were, sitting at these tables, and we were like, This feels so stupid to sit here and just sing the songs.
Anthony was the brave one. Anthony just got up, and stood on a table. And then it exploded. God, that show took so long, 'cause there wasn't a dry eye in the house. You could not possibly get through that without just bawling. Of course, as an actor you've tried to make the song clear, but then when you're singing [the show's lyric] ''no day but today,'' the day he dies? That really said, ''Kristen, anybody you love can get hit by a truck today.
You could get hit by a truck. To even use the word irony is the greatest understatement of the century. When they got through, everybody clapped, and then everybody sat there."La Vie Boheme" Finale in Broadway's "Rent" with Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Daphne Rubin-Vega
Nobody knew what to do. And then a voice shouted out, ''Thank you, Jonathan Larson. And I remember standing at the seat, saying to somebody that I hope this show's a success, and becomes a living testimonial to Jonny. Obviously, I didn't know what the hell I was wishing for.
I know that Michael Greif made sure to speak to Jonathan's family, and that everything along the way was always okay with them. When they lost their son, they sort of gained 15 new sons and daughters that were up there every night singing his music.
Every kid that's been in this show has become family, whether they want to or not. Thanks in part to Larson's now-posthumous Times profile, the Rent workshop became the hottest ticket in town. Once the whole ball started rolling, it became obvious. You think, Can this get any crazier? And then something bigger happens: My parents came to see me and they were like, ''We were sitting right in front of Steven Spielberg.
If Broadway can't accommodate this, then we can't work in the theater.
This attention meant that Rent could live all the more, which meant Jonathan was still alive. When he won the Pulitzer Prize [in April], it was just this incredibly bittersweet mixture of joy and sadness that he wasn't there.
But it all sort of felt like destiny. Like something carved out this thing in the sky, and then we just stepped through. On April 29, Rent opened at Broadway's less-than-desirable Nederlander Theatre on 41st Street, where the show was a required destination for celebrities.
It was a scary block and a derelict theater. Somehow we got to feel like we were still downtown, even though we were uptown. The first time we hit the Nederlander stage, we did what we had been doing as sort of a mini-ritual already, and we all just stood together and looked at one another and sang ''Seasons of Love.
Opening night was ridiculous. I don't remember the show so much. I was kind of floating 3 feet above the ground the whole time. I never look at the audience, but I can tell you the one moment that I did look out and saw someone that was recognizable was Prince. It was hard to ignore him. He was wearing hot pink, and he was on the aisle. I come from a church background.
The first time my mom came, I start my solo, and she stands up and waves her arms and says, ''That's my baby!! Fox was in the audience. He comes backstage and says, ''Amazing solo, but could you believe that woman?
When President Clinton and his family came, it was thrilling, but it was also like, ''Yeah, this is what happens. You have command performances for the President when you're part of something. This is the way the world works. In the end, I think the power of the work itself superceded the pigeonholing of the show as a downtown phenomenon. Many millions of people got to appreciate a beautiful piece of work because it moved. Because it entered the mainstream. The cast suddenly found themselves at the center of a media whirlwind.
Bloomingdale's put ''Rent fashions'' in their windows; the cast hit the talk-show circuit; and on May 13, Pascal and Rubin-Vega found themselves on the cover of Newsweek. We had no idea we were going to be on the cover until it actually came out. And as soon as I saw it, the fing vain fer that I am was not even excited. I was like, ''That is the worst picture.
The amount of press we were doing was exhausting, so the idea that if you were a lead you had to do those extra 10 photo shoots and stuff? They handled it really well. I probably would have become a heroin addict. I understand why people who are really young, like, freak out and lose their s and need to go to rehab early.
There was almost like an unspoken agreement that no one was going to get out of control. The stakes were too high. It wouldn't have been tolerated. It felt like a band of brothers. And it was Broadway. It's not like we're in Lord of the Rings.
'Rent': The Cast Looks Back - Oh No They Didn't!
I think these people responded with so much grace and so much generosity. The world was beating on their doors and telling them they were great, and while all that was going on, they were also grieving, and caring so much about Jonathan not being a part of their success.
We've all been touched as people to go through that. At the Tonys, Rent won four awards, including Best Musical. The circus always leaves town. And then the cast had to cope with the hard work of going up and doing the show eight times a week for 1, people who are not famous, but who came to see their show.
I had no idea how to do that and take care of myself. Didn't even know that I should be drinking water. So we would have all these crazy kinds of concoctions to try and take care of our voices, but yet we were smoking cigarettes and staying out all night drinking. There were many shows where I just croaked through it.
I enjoyed performing it. And I enjoyed the rise. But it wasn't until much later, when I could take a step away and mature a bit, when I realized the magnitude of the entire moment. Everything one day just fell on me like a ton of bricks. I forget what cast I was watching, but it all just hit me in some number, and I broke down. Until that point, I was listening to other people say how they were affected, but not quite feeling it myself.
You know, that's kind of how I do. It takes a while for things to sink in. Bythe original principals left for other projects, but they reunited in for the movie version, directed by Harry Potter helmer and self-professed Renthead Chris Columbus. Or as they say in Britain about anything whatsover, "brilliant"! Adam talked about his initial Rent audition, which came about because Idina Menzel who lived around the block from him when they were growing up told him that they were looking for an actor with a real rock voice.
Since he was pursuing a rock career at that time, he went in. He was outraged that he was asked to come back a third time and refused to go! How dare they not decide after two auditions! And still not get it. Anyhoo, he went back in and Michael Greifthe director, had one concern: He was asked to sing the love song directly into the eyes of the casting director, Bernie Telsey.
Let's just say, Daphne and Bernie have never been up for the same roles. Adam realized they needed to know if he could act. And he did it! Broadway, Tony nomination, film version, national tour, triumphant return to Broadway. And, 15 years later, he still looks the same. My fave story of the evening was told only because I happened to ask a random question.
I knew he had been a rocker, and I jokingly asked if he ever had some stupid rock name like "Axl" or "Flash. Turns out, while he was in the band, he decided he wanted to be more like Bono or Sting and he showed up one day at band rehearsal and told everyone that from now on, his name was no longer Adam, it was…Rain. He then decided to add a last name and became…"Rain Madison. Usually, at the end of each Broadway Serieswe've gotten a standing ovation, but this time we got a standing ovation when Andrea first walked onstage!
Mark Collins, who was running spotlight, told her that he's never seen anyone get a standing O for just walking out, and Andrea said, "It actually just means I'm old. I showed the video of her singing "Tomorrow" on the Tony Awards and she asked us to notice how much she flips her head. She said it was because she was a natural brunette with long hair so the Annie people got her hair dyed red and gave her a sassy haircut at Vidal Sassoon every few weeks that cost a few hundred dollars.
While she was playing Annie, she wanted the audience to see how nice it layered, so she got used to constantly flipping it up and back. I identified because, in the early '80s, I had to deal with my sister constantly calling me "One Day at a Time"'s Glenn Scarpelli. For tickets to our shows, go to www. It involves Mandy Patinkina large bunch of cables and her uterus. Watch it, and peace out!