Anthony Rapp visited CBS Mornings January 23 to talk about RENT, his relationship with his mother, and the pressures of putting on a solo show. The interview was recorded while Rapp was preparing for a new Off-Broadway run of his autobiographical solo musical, Without You, currently playing New World Stages.
"There had been a vacuum for this kind of storytelling" said Rapp, reflecting on the meteoric rise of RENT upon its debut. "There had been a vacuum in theatre for something that felt this visceral and raw and real."
Based on his best-selling memoir of the same name, Without You features music from Jonathan Larson's RENT along with original songs by Anthony Rapp, David Matos, Joe Pisapia, and Daniel A. Weiss; and additional arrangements by Tom Kitt. The show picks up as Rapp, broke and working at Starbucks, gets an audition for a new rock opera, going on to tell the story of the early days of the landmark musical.
Rapp's friendship with Larson, and his continued stewardship of his legacy following his untimely passing, is on full display throughout the show: "The fact that he wasn't there just tilted everything in this really strange way, but it also made us collectively that much more committed to it" Rapp explained. "From January 24, which was the dress rehearsal, until July, no one missed a performance. That never happens on any show, let alone a show as demanding as RENT."
Without You began performances Off-Broadway at New World Stages' Stage 5 January 14 with opening night set for January 25, the 27th anniversary of the first public performance of Rent. The run will continue through April 30.
Steven Maler is at the helm with Weiss serving as music director and providing orchestrations. The creative team also includes scenic and lighting designer Eric Southern, costume designer Angela Vesco, sound designer Brian Ronan, and projection designer David Bengali. Denise Savas is production stage manager.
Without You played a world premiere engagement at Pittsburgh's City Theatre in 2008. In the years since, the show has played Boston, Edinburgh Fringe, London, and more. The Off-Broadway bow follows earlier NYC engagements at Joe's Pub and Royal Family Performing Arts Space, the latter in 2022. An album of the show was released by PS Classics in 2012.