"RENT" Times Three

Three actors. Three companies. Three sweaters. One role. The road map to "Rent's" clamorous emotional journey is captained by Mark Cohen, video artist, cyber-guide, and stage shepherd for the 15 East Village denizens who populate the hit musical. Mark, who is an integral part of the action, is also strangely removed from it, as any filmmaker would likely be. He observes. He agonizes. His are the eyes through which we see the others. (In many ways, Mark can be seen as an alter-ego to Jonathan Larson, "Rent's" sadly departed author).

Anthony Rapp, 25, has three years as Mark under his belt, having created the role in "Rent's" 1994 studio production at New York Theatre Workshop. He continues to explore the character nightly at the Nederlander Theatre on Broadway. Newer to the role are Luther Creek, 25, and Neil Patrick Harris, 24, who portrayed TV's babydoc, "Doogie Howser, M.D.," from 1989 to 1993. They appear in "Rent's" first two national companies, currently in extended runs in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, respectively. Here are some of the trio's thoughts about making their mark in "Rent:"


Neil Patrick Harris

"The first time I saw "Rent," it was a bit overwhelming. Then I actually figured out what was going on with the specifics of Jonathan's music and lyrics. Then I fell in love with it...I never wanted to do a fluffy "Grease-y" type of musical that I wouldn't want my friends to see. "Rent" is a very cool show, and I take pride that his is my entrance to the musical world...I always imagined that when I was in the "Rent" movie I would be cast as Mark, but when I'm singing in my car I think, "Wouldn't I be a magnificent Roger?" ...Mark is not a difficult slipper to fit into. His job is to make sure everything goes smoothly and also to sort of helm the ship. I enjoy being the glue that holds "Rent" together. I flourish in that role in real life as well as on stage. I'm sort of the game show host at the party.

David Cohen - In Theater Magazine - 10-97

Thanks to Katie for this article.