For those of you who don’t know who Anthony Rapp is, he’s one of the original cast members of the musical, Rent. He originated the role of Mark Cohen, a young New Yorker trying to make his mark in the world by making a documentary. Whenever I thought of Anthony Rapp, the only thing that came to mind was Mark Cohen, and thinking of Anthony Rapp as a person separate from his character was pretty much impossible.
I recently heard about Anthony Rapp’s show, Without You, in Toronto and as a huge musical buff, I decided to get tickets and see what it was all about. All I knew was that it was written and performed by Rapp. The show was, in one word, amazing. Rapp spoke and sang about being cast in Rent, the shocking death of Johnathan Larson (the writer of the show, Rent), and the pain of watching his mother battle cancer. The book is essentially the same as the show, only in more detail and without the musical aspect, though lyrics are included throughout the book.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began reading Rapp’s book; I hadn’t heard anything about him writing a book and I don’t always enjoy memoirs. In the end, I thought his writing was very good and I felt a kinship with his mother. I could feel Rapp’s emotions through the turbulence of his romantic relationships and those with his cast members and family. In all honesty, I don’t think I would have ever picked this book up had I not gone to the show and bought it there. Though I adored Rent, both on stage at the Nederlander Theatre and as a movie, I never really connected with Mark as a character; I was too busy going gaga over Idina Menzel’s Maureen (can you blame me?!).
I can’t say that I’ll ever be willing to read Rapp’s memoir again. I enjoyed it, but I felt as though it was a bit too heavy and (I hate to say it) slightly conceited, as is the case with many memoirs written by people who are much too young to be writing memoirs. I think the book works MUCH better as a theatrical production, so I’m very happy I got to experience that and I highly recommend seeing the show.
After the show, Rapp was kind enough to do a short meet-and-greet where he autographed posters and books.