Title: Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent
Author: Anthony Rapp
Anthony Rapp is no writer and should really stick to musicals. That said, I cried like a baby throughout most of this book.
Rapp was first known to me as the ginger neighbor in Adventures in Babysitting. But he gained far larger exposure by originating the character of Mark in the play Rent. I’ll admit I love a good musical, but of all those I’ve seen, Rent might be at the top of my list. Touching, edgy, vulgar. I love it all! (It also caused my somewhat conservative brother-in-law to walk out at the intermission. It was too much for him).
Rent’s theme is a very sad one – losing those you love to illness. While the play is about losing them to AIDS, it is also infamously known for having the playwright die of a brain aneurism days before the play premiered. Rapp chronicles his life from getting the role to befriending the Jonathon Larson the playwright who died before he could see the success of the play. However, Rapp was also dealing with his own tragic situation as his mother dying of cancer.
Rapp parallels his life to the plot of Rent. While the characters learn to cherish each moment with the people they love because any moment they could be gone, Rapp was learning to cherish the moments with his mom as her cancer progressed.
The story hit very close to home for me as I lost my own father to cancer. While Rapp will not win any Pulitzers for his writing, he is painfully honest with his emotions, and I could relate to them all.
This song, taken from the play, seems to capture perfectly the spirit of the play and Rapp’s memoir.