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RENT was Knockin’ on my Door

So your probably wondering given then most recent posts I’ve made (no electric, no water, sickness, etc) if I’m having any fun. The answer to that question is yes, despite the many mishaps that have befallen me over the last 2 months I have found many fun things to do in Sofia since I’ve arrived.

One of which was just last night – getting to see RENT performed in Bulgarian. Lets just say it was a very interesting experience. It was a student production, put on by the local university/institute of dramatic arts. I was wondering how or if they would change the lyrics of the songs to Bulgarian, because you don’t want to mess with such an amazing show. Having seen the show 3 times on Broadway and owning the DVD of the movie I was comfortable knowing that I would understand the show completely no matter how much Bulgarian was involved. What they ended up doing was singing some of the songs in English, but with subtitles projected in Bulgarian for the audience to understand. They chose to have no scenery, but a glass type structure with metal frame and legs which was hung from the ceiling most of the time at different angles. It was used to symbolize the sky light window of the apartment, skyscraper type structures as a background for outside and also as the table for La Vie Boheme. I thought it was quite a creative approach.


Unfortunately, they also cut out several musical intros and songs including two of my favorites, “Would you light my candle” and “Jump over the Moon” and instead used dialogue in Bulgarian. Sort of how they mutilated the show when they made it into a movie – removing the music from the phone sequences and scene intros, etc. But, I am pretty sure they didn’t use the same words and took some dramatic license with the dialogues adding much much more sexuality to the characters and scenes that don’t really need it. More so they made homosexuality more of a joke using Angel more as a clown than a real person and making Maureen and Joanne’s relationship over sexualized, playing to men’s lesbian fantasies. At one point, Joanne practically was going down on Maureen on stage (with clothes on of course). And when Maureen did the “dialogue version” of “Jump over the Moon” it appeared like she was a stripper feeling herself up and about the take her clothes off.


Ironically, the one song in the entire show that is primarily about sex, it’s repercussions and loss, “Contact” was done with the entire cast in “hospital beds.” Making the message of the whole show more so about the fact that risky sexual behavior and homosexuality results in death by AIDs. They also chose to make it appear that the entire cast had AIDS, when after “La Vie Boheme” the AZT break moment between Mimi and Roger resulted in everyone pretending to take pills.

All and all I was very bothered by the dramatic license the director took which changed the message of Love, Life, and Struggle to simply, Homosexuality is a joke, everyone gets AIDS when you parade as a whore. There was no humanity shown, which is what the original show is all about. And also quite important most of the cast couldn’t sing – none of the girls hit any of the notes right . . it was actually quite painful to listen too. Only 3 cast members actually had decent voices – those who played Roger, Tom and Benny. I don’t mind if the songs are sung accented – but at least sing on key, not scream/shout the words.

It makes me miss RENT on Broadway more & more . . . So here is the Original RENT Cast Reunion at the 2008 Tonys . . .

And for your enjoyment:

Another recent night of entertainment was when I got to watch Nicky, the bartender of my favorite expat bar, The Black Dog perform with his band. He has a great voice which you can sort of hear behind the chorus of expats and Bulgarians singing along with him to “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Guns & Roses.

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