When “Rent” first opened on Broadway in 1996, the rock musical was a smash, earning particular praise for its portrayal of HIV-positive individuals, same-sex relationships, and drug addiction. Three years later – and 20 years ago this month – “Rent” came to Boston as the first city in its national tour, playing the Shubert Theatre across a record 29 weeks.
On Wednesday, to mark that anniversary, performers from the play’s current touring iteration raised a toast at the Moxy Boston Downtown, a new luxury hotel also celebrating its grand opening. Boston restaurateur Patrick Lyons, Boch Center CEO Josiah Spaulding, fashion designer Tonya Mezrich, and radio personality Kennedy Elsey, of Mix 104.1, were among those who came out for the event and mingled with performers.
Of note: assistant music director Paul O’Keefe, in attendance, is an Everett native who first joined “Rent” a year into its original Broadway run; decades earlier, he was a noted child actor in the ’60s, starring as Ross Lane on “The Patty Duke Show.”