As a youth growing up in rural Appalachia, I didn't have much exposure to musicals. Today I'm developing a stronger interest in the musical as a high-level art form, combining storytelling, songwriting-music, dance-choreography, theatre, etc.
Yesterday, I finally saw the 2005 film version of "Rent" (Sony Pictures, DVD). I highly recommend this film (and the stage version as well, if you ever have an opportunity to see it performed live) to anyone who hasn't yet seen it.
"Rent" is among the best works of art I've ever seen. Listening to Jonathan Larson's songs is like diving in a submarine to the deepest part of the ocean, then seeing light in the murky darkness.
Consider the following excerpt of lyrics about opening one's heart from Jonathan Larson's song "Another Day":
There's only now, there's only here
Give in to love or live in fear
No other path, No other way
No day but today
The story of love in the face of tough social and economic problems expressed by "Rent" moved me to tears several times. (Tears being the throat-tightening, choking up, gut-punching watery eyes you can't stop.) I could personally relate to numerous elements of the story: the pursuit of an artistic vision (ultimately a vision of our humanity) in the face of overwhelming odds and difficulties, relying on your friends and the family you make...
The philosophical questions surrounding "renting" are worthy of everyone's thought, in particular: How do you measure a life? Do you measure your life through money and possessions? Or through the meaning of our humanity? Through love?