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RENT A musical in 2 acts: Book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson. Based on Puccini's La Bohème Originally produced New York Theatre Workshop 29 October, 1995; Off-Broadway 13 February, 1996 (51 perfs); Nederlander Theatre, Broadway - Opened January 25, 1996 SYNOPSIS ACT I The Time: Christmas Eve. The place: New York City-an East Village industrial loft. Mark, a young filmmaker, sets up his camera. His roommate Roger, a songwriter and ex junkie, struggles to pick out a song on his electric guitar. Mark trains the camera on Roger, taunting him a bout his songwriter's block. The phone rings: On the answering machine, Mark's mother leaves her son a consoling, motherly message. Mark, who has just lost his girlfriend, Maureen, to another woman, screens the call. The phone rings again: Collins, an old friend, is at a pay phone downstairs. Mark picks up, but the call is cut short - Collins is being mugged. The phone rings once more. Again Mark and Roger pick up, hoping it is Collins, only to find Benny, their wealthy former roommate turned landlord, on the line instead, demanding the rent. As if things couldn't get any worse, the electrical power blows. Loudly, Mark and Roger rage. They burn their past to keep warm using Roger's rock and roll posters and Mark's screenplays for fuel. The past is not so easily wiped out, though; the phone rings yet again and this time it's Maureen calling, begging Mark for technical help with her performance piece scheduled for later that night in the vacant lot next door. Haplessly, he agrees. Outside, a badly beaten Collins is discovered by Angel, a street musician, who offers bandages, comfort, and an invitation for a night on the town. Their instant attraction becomes a bond with the realisation that both are HIV-Positive. In the loft, Mark also urges Roger to come out for the evening, but Roger refuses. Left alone, he stoically takes his AZT and dreams of writing one last song to redeem his empty life. He is interrupted by a beautiful stranger from downstairs, Mimi. Mimi needs a match, her electricity is down too. She and Roger are instantly drawn to each other, but Roger resists. Mimi, he recognises, is a junkie. Elsewhere, Maureen and Joanne's answering machine receives a message from Joanne's parents, but she is not home to hear it. At last, Mark returns with Collins, who brings provisions and, better yet, funds in the person of Angel, now decked out in glorious drag. Angel explains how he has earned a fast $1,000 which he is eager to share. Benny barges in with a deal: If Mark and Roger will stop Maureen's performance tonight protesting the clearing of a tent city from Benny 's adjacent vacant lot, Benny will forgive Mark and Roger's back rent. Once Benny is gone, Mark, Angel and Collins head out for the evening, leaving Roger alone again. In the lot, Mark gathers his courage to meet the formidable Joanne, Maureen's new lover, who has also usurped Mark's stage manager duties. When Joanne reluctantly accepts Mark's technical assistance, the two quickly find common ground in their shared experiences of the self-centred, unfaithful albeit irresistible Maureen. Angel and Collins attend an AIDS Support meeting; Mark arrives to document it on film. The group affirms its determination to live without fear; "no day but today". Meanwhile, in her apartment, Mimi is dressing to kill. Turning up again on Roper's doorstep, she implores him to take her out. Roger is tempted, but his fear ultimately compels him to push Mimi away. Simultaneously, a young support group member quietly asks, "Will I lose my dignity... Will someone care?" His questions are echoed by each member of the community, including Roger, who decides finally to leave his loft room in search of answers.