Renta Cubana (Film Thoughts” Revolution Rent, HBO Max)

Over the years, I have been very vocal about my dislike of the musical ‘Rent.’ I don’t think it’s the worst musical in the world, but I am immune to its charms – I only like ‘Seasons of Love’ from its score, and that song is too popular for me to really champion. But I get why people like i t- its subversively inclusive message can be infectious. But of course, anything musical related I watch, and HBO’s ‘Revolution Rent’ documentary was just begging for me.

I totally loved this film. Directed by Andy Senor and Patrick Alvarez, it shows Senor’s journey of bringing the show to Cuba – the first musical to be staged there in a long while. Senor was a replacement Angel in the original production of Rent on Broadway so obviously he has strong affinity for the material (it’s akin to Baayork Lee directing a production of ‘A Chorus Line’)

I found myself rooting for him and the production. We see him mount the production from scratch, compiling a cast fo Cuban locals who had to be molded into actors and singers effectively essaying the spirit of the musical. I thought the process was poignantly presented, and by the time they take the final bows on opening night Christmas Eve in Havana, I was in tears.

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