This article is about the 1996 Broadway rock opera. For the 2005 film, see Rent (film).

Original Broadway Window card
Music Jonathan Larson
Lyrics [vipen forungry
Book Jonathan Larson
Based upon Giacomo Puccini's Opera
La bohème
Productions 1996 New York Theatre Workshop
1996 Broadway
1996 U.S. tour
1997 North American tour
1998 West End
1998 Australian
2001 U.K. Tour
2003 U.K. Tour
2003 West End
2007 South African tour
2007 West End
2007 Australia
Major productions worldwide
Awards Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Tony Award for Best Musical
Tony Award for Best Book
Tony Award for Best Score
Drama Desk Outstanding Musical
Drama Desk for Outstanding Book

Rent is a romance musical, with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson[1] inspired by Giacomo Puccini's opera La bohème. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York's Lower East Side in the thriving days of the Bohemian East Village, under the shadow of AIDS.

Rent, which won a Tony Award for Best Musical and a Pulitzer Prize, among other awards, was one of the first Broadway musicals to feature bisexual and transgender characters. In addition, its cast was very ethnically diverse. Rent brought controversial topics to a traditionally conservative medium, and it helped to increase the popularity of musical theater among the younger generation.

The musical was first seen at the New York Theatre Workshop in 1994. On January 26, 1996, Rent opened in New York City off-broadway before moving to Broadway's Nederlander Theatre on April 29, 1996.[2] Rent has been successful on Broadway, where it had critical acclaim and word-of-mouth popularity. With more than 4,300 performances, it is the seventh longest-running Broadway show,[3] and the production has grossed over $280 million.[4] It became the second longest-running musical currently on Broadway, eight years behind The Phantom of the Opera, when Beauty and the Beast ended its run on July 29, 2007. After a 12 year run, the Broadway production of Rent will close on June 1, 2008.[5]

In 2005, Rent was also adapted into a motion picture that features most of the original cast members. Certain plot elements were changed slightly, and some of the songs were changed to spoken dialogue.


In 1988, playwright Billy Aronson wanted to create "a musical based on Puccini's La Bohème, in which the luscious splendor of Puccini's world would be replaced with the coarseness and noise of modern New York."[6] In 1989 Jonathan Larson, a 29-year-old composer, began collaborating with Aronson on this project, and the two composed a few songs together, including "Santa Fe", "Rent", and "I Should Tell You". Larson made the suggestion to set the play in Greenwich Village, the artsy avant-garde neighborhood of Manhattan where he lived, and also came up with the show's ultimate title (a decision that Aronson was unhappy with, at least until Larson pointed out that "rent" also means torn apart). In 1991, he asked Aronson if he could use Aronson's original concept and make Rent his own.[7] Aronson and Larson made an agreement that if the show went to Broadway, Aronson would share in the proceeds.[7]

Jonathan Larson focused on composing Rent in the early 1990s, waiting tables at the Moondance Diner to support himself. Over the course of seven years, Larson wrote hundreds of songs and made many drastic changes to the show, which in its final incarnation contained 42 songs. In the fall of 1992, Larson approached James Nicola, artistic director of the New York Theatre Workshop, with a tape and copy of Rent's script. When Rent had its first staged reading at the New York Theatre Workshop in March 1993, it became evident that despite its very promising material and moving musical numbers, many structural problems needed to be addressed including its cumbersome length and overly complex plot.[7]

As of 1994, the New York Theatre Workshop version of Rent featured songs that never made it to the final version, such as "You'll Get Over It", the predecessor of "Tango: Maureen," featuring Mark and Maureen; "Female to Female A & B," featuring Maureen and Joanne; and "Real Estate", a number where Benny tries to convince Mark to become a real estate agent and drop his photography. This workshop version of Rent starred Anthony Rapp as Mark, Daphne Rubin-Vega as Mimi, and Gilles Chaisson in the same ensemble role he played in the eventual Broadway production.

Larson continued to work on Rent, gradually reworking its flaws and staging more workshop productions. In 1996, after the musical's final dress rehearsal, Larson enjoyed his first newspaper interview with theater critic Ben Brantley of The New York Times who gave Rent a glowing review, calling it an "exhilarating, landmark rock opera" with a "glittering, inventive score" that "shimmers with hope for the future of the American musical."[8] Larson would not live to see Rent's true success; he died from an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm (believed to have resulted from Marfan syndrome) in the early morning of January 25, 1996, just a few hours after his first interview.

The first preview of Rent was canceled and instead, friends and family gathered at the theater where the actors performed a sing-through of Rent in Larson's memory. [7] The show premiered as planned and quickly became the hottest ticket in town, popularity fueled by its genuinely raw material, relevant subject matter, enthusiastic reviews, and the recent death of its composer. The show proved extremely successful during its off-Broadway run, selling out all its shows at the 150-seat New York Theatre Workshop.[2] Due to such overwhelming popularity and a need for a larger theater, Rent moved to Broadway's previously derelict Nederlander Theatre on 41st Street on April 29, 1996.[2]

Sources and inspiration[]

Larson's inspiration for Rent's content came from several different sources. Many of the characters and plot elements are drawn directly from Giacomo Puccini's opera La bohème, the globe premiere of which was in 1896—100 years before Rent's premiere.[6] La bohème was also about the lives of poor young artists. Tuberculosis, the plague of Puccini's opera, is replaced by AIDS in Rent; 1800s Paris is replaced by New York's East Village in the late 1980s. The names and identities of Rent's characters also heavily reflect Puccini's original characters, though they are not all direct adaptations. For example, Joanne in Rent is an amalgamation of both Marcello and Alcindoro in Bohème:

Character in La bohème Character in Rent
Mimi, a seamstress with tuberculosis Mimi Marquez, an exotic dancer with HIV
Rodolfo, a poet Roger Davis, a musician who is HIV positive
Marcello, a painter Mark Cohen, a filmmaker
Musetta, a singer Maureen Johnson, a performance artist
Schaunard, a musician Angel Dumott Schunard, a cross-dressing percussionist with AIDS
Colline, a philosopher Tom Collins, a philosophy professor and Anarchist philosopher with AIDS
Alcindoro, a state councilor Joanne Jefferson, a lawyer (Also partially based on Marcello)
Benoit, a landlord Benjamin 'Benny' Coffin III, also a landlord

Other examples of parallels between Larson's and Puccini's work include Larson's song "Light My Candle", which is nearly identical to the first scene between Mimi and Rodolfo in La bohème, "Musetta's Waltz", a melody taken directly from Puccini's opera, and "Goodbye Love", a long, painful piece that reflects a confrontation and parting between characters in both Puccini's and Larson's work.[9] The song "Quando me n' vo'" from La bohème is also referenced in the first verse of "Take Me or Leave Me," when Maureen describes the way people stare when she walks in the street. "Musetta's Waltz" is also directly referred to in "Rent."

Rent is also a somewhat autobiographical work, as Larson incorporated many elements of his life into his show. Larson lived in New York for many years as a starving artist with an uncertain future. He sacrificed a life of stability for his art, and shared many of the same hopes and fears as his characters. Like his characters he endured poor living conditions, and some of these conditions (e.g. illegal wood-burning stove, bathtub in the middle of his kitchen, broken buzzer (his guests had to call from the pay phone across the street and he would throw down the keys, as in "Rent") made their way into the play.[10]

The line, "I'm more man than you'll ever be... and more woman than you'll ever get!," attributed to Angel Dumott Schunard at his funeral, was previously used by the character Hollywood Montrose, who appeared in the films Mannequin (1987) and Mannequin: On the Move (1991). Like Angel, Hollywood is a flamboyantly homosexual man who performs a song and dance number and sometimes wears women's clothing.

The earliest concepts of the characters differ largely from the finished products. Everyone except Mark had AIDS, including the lesbians; Maureen was a serious, angry character who played off Oedipus in her performance piece instead of Hey Diddle Diddle; Mark was, at one point, a painter instead of a filmmaker; Roger was named Ralph and wrote musical plays; Angel was a jazz philosopher, while Collins was a street performer; Angel and Collins were both originally described as Caucasian; and Benny had a somewhat enlarged role in the story, taking part in songs like "Real Estate", which was later cut.[11]

Many actual locations and events are included in, or are the inspiration for, elements of the musical. The Life Café, where the "La Vie Boheme" numbers are set, is an actual restaurant in the East Village of New York City.[12][13] The riot at the end of the first act is based on the East Village conflicts of the late 1980s that arose as a result of the city-imposed curfew in Tompkins Square Park.[13]

"Will I?", a song which takes place during a Life Support meeting and expresses the pain and fear of living a life with AIDS, was inspired by a real event. Larson attended a meeting of Friends in Deed, an organization that helps people deal with illness and grief and the other emotions, much like Life Support. After that first time, Larson attended the meetings regularly. The people present at the Life Support meeting in the show, such as Gordon, Ali, and Pam carry the names of Larson's friends who died of AIDS. In the Broadway show, the names of the characters in that particular scene (they introduce themselves) are changed nightly to honor the friends of the cast members who are suffering from/have died of AIDS. [14] During one meeting, a man stood up and said that he was not afraid of dying. He did, however, say that there was one thing he was afraid of: Would he lose his dignity? From this question stemmed the first line in the single stanza of this song.Template:Fact

The scene and song "Life Support" was also based on Friends in Deed, as well as on Gordon, Pam, and Ali. Originally, the members of Life Support had a solid block of the "forget regret" refrain, and they talked about remembering love. When Jonathan's HIV+ positive friends heard this scene, they told him that having AIDS wasn't so easy to accept: it made you angry and resentful too, and the song didn't match that. Jonathan then added a part where Gordon says that he has a problem with this " T-cells are low, I regret that news, okay?" Paul, the leader of the meeting, replies, "Okay...but, Gordon, how do you feel today?" Gordon admits that he's feeling the best he's felt all year. Paul asks, "Then why choose fear?" Gordon says, "I'm a New Yorker. Fear's my life."

In her 1998 book Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS, and the Marketing of Gay America, author Sarah Schulman claims that plot elements from Rent were lifted from her 1990 book People in Trouble. In an interview, she said, "The gay part of Rent is basically the plot of my novel." Schulman claims that upon reading her novel, Larson stole her ideas and altered them to make them more consumer-oriented and "gay friendly" in order to turn the best profit.[15]

Lynn Thomson is a dramaturg who was hired by the New York Theatre Workshop to help rework Jonathan Larson’s musical Rent. She claims that between early May and the end of October of 1995 with Larson as principal author and Thomson as secondary author they co-wrote what they designated as the October 1995 "new version" of Rent. She sued the estate for forty million dollars, seeking 16 percent of royalties from the show. She claimed she had written a significant portion of the lyrics and the libretto.

In August 1998 the case was settled outside of court with the Jonathan Larson estate. The settlement addressed claims of Lynn Thomson regarding credit, royalties and other issues concerning the rewriting of Rent. The terms of the settlement were confidential and not to be disclosed by either side as pursuant to a court order.[16]

Musical numbers[]

Act 1
  • Tune Up #1 - Mark & Roger
  • Voice Mail #1 - Mark's Mom
  • Tune Up #2 - Mark, Roger, Collins & Benny
  • Rent - Company
  • You Okay Honey? - Angel & Collins
  • Tune Up #3 - Mark & Roger
  • One Song Glory - Roger
  • Light My Candle - Mimi & Roger
  • Voice Mail #2 - Mr. & Mrs. Jefferson
  • Today 4 U - Collins, Roger, Mark & Angel
  • You'll See - Benny, Mark, Roger, Collins & Angel
  • Tango: Maureen - Joanne & Mark
  • Life Support - Company
  • Out Tonight - Mimi
  • Another Day - Mimi, Roger & Company
  • Will I? - Company
  • Santa Fe - Collins, Angel & Mark
  • I'll Cover You - Angel & Collins
  • We're Okay - Joanne
  • Christmas Bells - Company
  • Over The Moon - Maureen
  • La Vie Boheme A - Company
  • I Should Tell You - Mimi & Roger
  • La Vie Boheme B - Company

;Act 2

  • *Seasons Of Love - Company
  • *Happy New Year - Mark, Roger, Mimi, Collins, Angel, Maureen & Joanne
  • *Voice Mail #3 - Mark's Mom & Alexi Darling
  • *Happy New Year B - Mark, Roger, Mimi, Collins, Angel, Maureen, Joanne & Benny
  • *Take Me Or Leave Me - Maureen & Joanne
  • *Seasons Of Love B - Company
  • *Without You - Roger & Mimi
  • *Voice Mail #4 - Alexi Darling
  • *Contact - Company
  • *I'll Cover You (Reprise) - Collins & Company
  • *Halloween - Mark
  • *Goodbye Love - Mark, Roger, Mimi, Collins, Angel, Maureen, Joanne & Benny
  • *What You Own - Roger & Mark
  • *Voice Mail #5 - Roger's Mom, Mimi's Mom, Mr. Jefferson & Mark's Mom
  • *Finale - Company
  • *Your Eyes - Roger
  • *Finale B - Company


Act I[]

Pre-show, the stage is visible to the audience as stagehands, musicians etc. informally move about the stage, preparing for the performance. The show begins as Mark, a filmmaker and the narrator of the show, begins shooting an unscripted documentary about his friends on Christmas Eve in his loft, turning the camera on his roommate Roger, a songwriter who is picking up his guitar for the first time in a year ("Tune Up #1"). Mark's mother interrupts with a call from the suburbs; she reassures Mark after his girlfriend Maureen dumped him for a woman, and says that his family will miss him at home for Christmas ("Voice Mail #1").

Outside, their friend Tom Collins, a former professor of philosophy, comes to visit them but is jumped by thugs and lies bleeding on the street. Meanwhile, their former friend Benny, who married wealthy Alison Grey of Westport and bought Mark and Roger's apartment building and the lot next door, calls and breaks his promise to let them live in the apartment for free. He asks for the rent, which he knows they do not have ("Tune Up #2"). The power to Mark and Roger's apartment shuts off, and they vent their frustrations about being broke artists unable to pay the rent and unable to find inspiration for their art. Meanwhile, Joanne, a Harvard-educated lawyer and Maureen's new girlfriend, is working on the sound system for Maureen's performance protesting Benny's plan to develop the lot where many homeless people are currently living, when the sound system blows. Maureen calls Mark to fix the sound system for her against Joanne's wishes, and Mark agrees to help against his better judgment. Mark and Roger decide to rebel against Benny and refuse to pay their rent ("Rent").

Back on the street, Angel, a street drummer, spots Collins and comes to his aid; later, they leave the alley together to tend to Collins's wounds ("You Okay Honey"?). They are instantly attracted to one another and quickly discover that they both have AIDS. Meanwhile, Mark asks Roger to come to Maureen's show or dinner that night in an effort to get him out of the house, but Roger declines. Mark reminds Roger to take his AZT, revealing that Roger is HIV positive. He also reveals that Roger's girlfriend, April, committed suicide after finding out that they were both HIV-positive, probably from using contaminated needles ("Tune Up #3").

After Mark leaves, Roger sings about his desperate need to write one great song to make his mark on the world before he dies of AIDS ("One Song Glory"). He hears a knock on his door and answers it to find Mimi, a nineteen-year-old junkie and S&M dancer at the Cat Scratch Club. She lives in the apartment downstairs and asks Roger to light a candle for her because her electricity and heat have also been shut off. Mimi also needs the candle to prepare her heroin, which she drops inside the loft and then employs as means to flirt with Roger. There is mutual attraction, but Roger is hesitant as this is his first romantic situation since his ex-girlfriend April's death ("Light My Candle") In Maureen and Joanne's loft, Joanne's parents call about law and family business, but she is not home to hear it ("Voice Mail #2").

Collins finally reaches to Mark and Roger's apartment, bearing gifts. He introduces Angel in full and gorgeous drag, flashing a large stack of money. Mark inquires about the money, and Angel explains that a wealthy woman paid him to play his drums outside her neighbor's apartment to drive the yappy Akita (named Evita) that lived there into jumping off a window ledge ("Today 4 U"). The audience finds out later that the Akita belonged to the Greys. Benny arrives and tells Mark and Roger that he will guarantee that they can live in the apartment rent-free if they convince Maureen to cancel her protest ("You'll See"). Mark refuses. After Benny leaves, Angel and Collins invite Mark and Roger to attend Life Support, a local HIV support group meeting. Roger declines, but Mark assures them he will come after he fixes Maureen's sound equipment.

Mark arrives at the lot and meets Joanne. After initial distrust, they agree that dating Maureen, a self-absorbed flirtatious diva, is like dancing an exasperatingly complicated tango, and the two reluctantly discover that they can be friends ("Tango: Maureen"). After fixing the sound system, Mark joins Collins and Angel at the Life Support meeting, where members share their thoughts and fears about living with AIDS. Gordon, a member of the group who has found out his T-cells are low, voices his hurt and anger at the news and explains that while afraid of what lies ahead, he tries to accept it "because reason says/I should have died/three years ago..." Roger echoes this last refrain.("Life Support"). Meanwhile, Mimi returns to Roger's apartment and playfully asks him to take her out ("Out Tonight").

Roger is terrified of caring for Mimi because she is a heroin addict, which led to Roger's own HIV infection, and because he knows he does not have long to live and does not want Mimi to feel the loss he felt for April. Roger yells at her to leave. Mimi gently urges Roger to forget past regrets, saying that there is "no day but today." However, he refuses to listen and drives her out of his apartment ("Another Day"). Roger changes his mind and leaves the loft at last. At the Life Support meeting, everyone sings of the fear and uncertainty in his or her lives ("Will I?").

After leaving Life Support, the friends save a homeless bag lady from being beaten by a police officer, only to be reprimanded by her for being pretentious artists ("On The Street"). As they walk away contemplating her response, Collins fantasizes about living in an idealized Santa Fe, where the climate and the people are much warmer ("Santa Fe"). Mark leaves, promising that he will try to convince Roger to go to Maureen's show. Collins and Angel then sing about their newfound love and officially become a couple ("I'll Cover You"). Meanwhile, Joanne is getting ready for the protest and her upcoming legal case ("We're Okay").Roger apologizes to Mimi and invites her to the protest and the dinner party afterwards, and she accepts. Meanwhile, the riot police and Benny prepare for the protest, and Angel buys Collins a new coat ("Christmas Bells").

Everyone attends Maureen's performance, a thinly veiled criticism of Benny through a metaphor involving a cow and a bulldog, cribbing from "Hey Diddle Diddle" ("Over The Moon"). The protest ends in a riot that Mark catches on camera. A local news station purchases his footage. Afterwards, the group goes to the Life Café, where they spot Benny and his investor, Mr. Grey, who is also Benny's father-in-law. Benny criticizes the protest and the group's Bohemian lifestyle, declaring that Bohemia is dead. Mark gets up and delivers a mock eulogy for Bohemia, and all the bohemians in the café rise up and celebrate La Vie Boheme, ("the bohemian life"), joyfully paying tribute to everything they love about life while dancing on the tables.

It is revealed that Benny and Mimi used to be in a relationship that ended three months earlier when Benny confronts Mimi about Roger. Joanne catches Maureen kissing another woman and angrily stalks off ("La Vie Boheme"). Mimi's beeper goes off reminding her to take her AZT, and Roger and Mimi discover that they are both HIV-positive. They talk openly for the first time and despite their uncertainties and fears, they finally take the plunge into starting a relationship ('I Should Tell You"). Joanne comes back to break up with Maureen, and informs everyone that the homeless are refusing to leave the lot despite police presence. This news sparks a new round of joyful revelry ("La Vie Boheme B"). The act closes as Mimi and Roger share a small kiss.

Act II[]

The act opens with the cast singing about the various ways one can measure a year, ultimately deciding to measure in love ("Seasons of Love"). Mimi, Mark, and Roger's building has been padlocked because of Maureen's protest. On New Year's Eve, Roger, Mark and Mimi try to break into their building. Mimi optimistically makes a New Year's resolution to give up her heroin addiction and go back to school. Joanne and Maureen decide to try for a relationship again, and all the couples are happy together. Collins and Angel make an appearance as James Bond and Pussy Galore, and Angel brings a blowtorch.

Mark, Maureen, and Joanne scale the fire escape and break in through a window, while the others use Angel's blowtorch to break down the door ("Happy New Year A"). Alexi Darling of "Buzzline," a tabloid newsmagazine, had seen Mark's footage of the riot and has left a message on Mark's answering machine offering him a contract ("Voice Mail #3"). All the friends enter the apartment celebrating the new year, but Benny shows up prematurely ending the festivities. Benny asks Mark to film him offering a rent-free contract, but the friends accuse him of trying to get good press. Incensed, Benny maliciously implies that Mimi showed up at his place and "convinced" him to rethink the financial situation, while Mimi denies everything. Roger becomes extremely upset and renounces their relationship, but Angel convinces everyone to calm down and make a New Year's resolution to always remain friends. Roger and Mimi make up, but Mimi is still upset and sneaks off to buy heroin ("Happy New Year B").

On Valentine's Day, Maureen and Joanne have a fight while rehearsing for a new protest, and break up again ("Take Me or Leave Me"). In the spring as everything deteriorates, the cast poses the question, "How do you measure a last year on earth?" ("Seasons of Love B"). Mimi comes home late again after secretly buying drugs, causing Roger to believe that she is cheating on him with Benny. Roger jealously storms out, and Mimi sings about life without him. All the while, Angel's health suffers and Collins tries to nurse him back to health. All the couples reconcile because they realize the emptiness in living alone ("Without You"). Alexi keeps calling Mark to try to convince him to join Buzzline ("Voice Mail #4").

The scene turns to a bed containing all the couples, with the implication that they are all having sex, which quickly transforms into a frustrating and awkward situation for all of them. However, for Collins and Angel, the bed is both a place for sexual contact and a place where Angel, embodied in a release of sexual and bodily energy, dies from AIDS. ("Contact"). Collins is heartbroken, and at Angel's funeral, he declares his undying love. The others take part in the funeral, mourning the loss of such a close friend ("I'll Cover You (Reprise)"). Mark expresses his fear of being the only one left surviving when the rest of his friends die of AIDS, and finally accepts Alexi's job offer ("Halloween"). Everyone leaves the funeral, and Roger reveals that he is leaving New York for Santa Fe, which sparks an argument about commitment between both couples, with Mark and Benny desperately trying to restore calm. Collins arrives and puts everyone to shame, stating, "You all said you'd be cool today/So please, for my sake...Angel helped us believe in love/I can't believe you disagree".

Maureen and Joanne make up again, but Mimi leaves with Benny after Roger shuns her. When Roger prepares to leave, he gets into a fight with Mark: Roger accuses Mark of living a fake life by hiding in his work, and Mark accuses Roger of running away because he is afraid of watching Mimi die. When Roger leaves the apartment, he is horrified to find a clearly weak Mimi, who had come to say goodbye, standing outside the door. He realizes that she overheard everything. She is visibly shaken and bids Roger a tearful goodbye, as Roger runs away determined to find his song. Finding a distraught Mimi, Mark suggests that she enroll at a rehabilitation clinic, which Benny offers to pay for ("Goodbye Love").

In Santa Fe, Roger cannot forget Mimi; back in New York, Mark remembers Angel and his overall joy in life and love. They both suddenly have an artistic epiphany, as Roger finally finds his song in Mimi and Mark finds his film in Angel's memory. Roger returns to New York just in time for Christmas and Mark quits Buzzline to work on his own film. ("What You Own") On Christmas Eve, everyone's parents call to try to find his or her children but nobody is home ("Voice Mail #5"). Mark is preparing to show his finished documentary. Roger is ecstatic about finding his song. No one, however, has been able to find Mimi. Collins arrives with money, revealing that he rigged a nearby ATM to dispense free cash with the PIN "A-N-G-E-L". Suddenly, Maureen and Joanne arrive, calling for help. They bring in Mimi, who is sick and delirious from living on the streets in the dead of winter. Roger is frantic and Collins calls 9-1-1 but is put on hold. Mimi and Roger finally clear up their misunderstandings, and Mimi tells Roger that she loves him ("Finale A"). Knowing that time is short, Roger asks Mimi to listen to the song that he had been working on all year that was inspired by her ("Your Eyes'). He shortly reprises the beginning of "Another Day" by saying "Who do you think you are?/Leaving me alone with my guitar/Hold on, there's something you should hear/It isn't much, but it took all year."

As he finishes his song to Mimi and finally tells her that he has always loved her, they kiss. Mimi goes limp and Roger, in tears, believes her to be dead. Suddenly Mimi comes back to life, saying that she was heading into a warm, white light and that Angel was there, telling her to turn back and listen to Roger's song. She and Roger embrace, and everyone is touched and relieved as they are reminded of the fleetingness of life and reaffirm that there is "no day but today" ("Finale B"). Then Mark plays the Documentary he has been working on.[17]


  • Mark Cohen, a struggling documentary filmmaker, the narrator of the show and the person who creates a final movie which details his friends' lives and journeys throughout the story. Ex-Boyfriend of Maureen. Roommate of Roger.
  • Roger Davis, an HIV infected musician who is recovering from heroin addiction; Mark's roommate and Mimi's love interest.
  • Tom Collins, a philosophy teacher and anarchist with AIDS; friend and former roommate of Roger, Mark, Benny, and Maureen; Angel's lover.
  • Mimi Marquez, an HIV-positive exotic dancer and heroin junkie; Roger's love interest who used to be involved with "Benny" Coffin III
  • Angel Dumott Schunard, a drag queen street percussionist/musician with AIDS; Collins' lover.
  • Joanne Jefferson, a Harvard-educated woman.


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