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HBO will premiere “Revolution Rent,” the 2019 documentary following Andy Señor Jr.’s journey to stage a production of “Rent” in Cuba, on June 15.
Señor Jr., who directed the documentary alongside Victor Patrick Alvarez, started his career with “Rent.” In the late 1990s he starred as Angel Dumott Schunard in Jonathan Larson’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical about a group of starving artists in the East Village who are dealing with big dreams, drug addiction and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
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Now, things are coming full circle 25 years after the show made its Broadway debut. In the documentary, Señor Jr. takes the show from auditions through closing night, highlighting both the “setbacks and accomplishments” of being Cuba’s first Broadway musical produced by an American company in more than 50 years. Señor Jr.’s story is also a personal one, as he explores his Cuban heritage and family’s relationship to the country within this project.
“When we began working on the production of ‘Rent’ in Cuba and documenting the journey along the way, I had no idea how the story would unfold and that our documentary would end up on HBO,” said Señor Jr. in a statement. “I am beyond thrilled to share this deeply personal and magical moment in our lives and I’m grateful that Jonathan Larson’s words and music are still making such an impact, 25 years later.”
Added Alvarez: “Traveling to Cuba to make this film was incredibly challenging yet rewarding in ways I never imagined. ‘Revolution Rent’ is about creativity in the face of adversity and the healing powers of human connection.”
From HBO Documentary Films, “Revolution Rent” is written by Señor Jr.; executive produced by Neil Patrick Harris, Brooke Christian, Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment, Robert Nederlander Jr., Marvin Kaplan, Jacob Parker, Stanley Browne, Zoe Chapin, Shea Martin, Karim Amer and Mark Berger, and produced by Scott Fenn and Christine O’Malley.
“Andy and I started our ‘Rent’ journey together many years ago and I was proud to see him take his talents to Cuba,” said Harris. ‘Revolution Rent’ is a continuation of our journey as well as a tribute to the power of theater and its ability to transform lives.”
Prior celebrations for “Rent’s” 25th anniversary included a “Measure Your Life in Love” virtual celebration back in March, featuring original cast members. A special touring production entitled “Farewell Season of Love” was in the works but has been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The last time “Rent” was celebrated with a special television production was in 2019, when Fox staged a live version of the musical; that went on to win two Emmy Awards (for variety special production design and variety special lighting design).
Larson’s “Rent” was inspired by “La Bohème” and first produced at New York Theatre Workshop in 1993 before moving to Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre a few years later. Its original Broadway run was a dozen years, which makes it one of the longest-running shows to date, and it was later revived off-Broadway for a year. During the last two-and-a-half decades there have been countless touring casts — including a special stop at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, which Harris directed — and a feature film adaptation.
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