WMG / RENT

Angel is 131,400 years old.
During the I'll Cover You reprise, the last line (one of them) is "525,600 Seasons of Love". As it is Angel's funeral, and they are all speaking for her, They're talking of her life. If you multiply 131,400 by four (one for each season), you get 525,600 seasons of love(/life).

To put simply, Angel helped them believe in love, and so all 525,600 seasons of love stands for Angel's life span.
  • The lyric is
    525,600 minutes
    525,000 seasons of love.
Pretty clearly implying that every minute is a "season of love" (which works given the play's general theme of "making every minute count"), and THAT is how you "measure a last year on earth." (Although, if Angel died on October 31 and Seasons of Love B is an interlude set around April (an earlier version of the script specifies that the events of the following song, "Without You," take place in April), Angel only made it about 308,000 "seasons of love" into the new year).

Angel is not her(/his) real name.
It's actually pretty uncommon for a trans/nonbinary to NOT change their name, mostly due to the fact that their name is masculine/feminine so they need to change it so it's easier to identify their gender.

Also, Angel isn't really a common name one would give their child (more common would be Angela or Angelina or something).

  • this is actually kind of offensive. Who cares what her parents chose as a name for her. The name she chose for herself is the one that matters. It is her REAL name.
  • Unless the the writter of this WMG is using "real name" in the sense of "full name" or "legal name", which is very common in some places. (E.g. "His real name isn't Tommy, it's Thomas. Her name isn't Sam, it's Samantha.") Otherwise, as a name is simply an identifier, any name can be considered a "real" name. For example, this troper was once known exclusively as "the HAMMER!"(relating to a noodle incident) for about a year and a half among his high-school drama department. It fulfilled the functionality of a name, and thus was a "real" name among that group and that time period, but no one would call it it a "real name". TLDR: "real name" is a common slang/idiom for one's legal name.
    • I wish to know this noodle incident; please elaborate. Or, in theatre speak: "Tell me more, tell me more."
  • Angel is actually kind of a common male name in the Latino community, which is the original Angel and a lot of actors who play Angel's ethnicity. So it's not too odd if Angel is her birth name. It's usually pronounced AANG-HELL. But I can see her changing her name to Angel as well.
    • While Angel is not canonically Latin@, besides casting choices, there are clues in the play that Angel could very well be Latin@: Angel's life motto ("Today for you, tomorrow for me") is a direct translation of a Spanish phrase endorsing acts of kindness towards strangers ("Hoy por tí, mañana por yo"); Angel is close to Mimi (who IS canonically Latina), and duets with Mimi during La Vie Boheme to celebrate (among other things) rice, beans and cheese and huevos rancheros. In the movie, Angel also quips to Collins in Spanish about Mark's fixation on Maureen. The Tony Award-winning first Broadway Angel (also the Angel of the film), Wilson Jermaine Heredia, is Dominicano.

Collins is on something throughout the whole movie, or at least on the first Christmas Eve
Need proof? Santa Fe. Think about it.

He did marijuana on-screen during one throw-away line in "La Vie Boheme," so the weaker version of this theory is true in the film.

It's not that farfetched an idea.

  • He smokes a blunt and shares it with Angel after the "Today 4 U" number in the movie, so this is probably true in that medium.
    • He frequently has a joint behind his ear in the film too.

Angel is Santa Claus.
...So Santa died of AIDS? DO NOT WANT.
  • Could have resurrected in a different form though ...

Mark is Bi
  • And has the hots for Roger.
    • This isn't canon?
      • Maybe in fanon
      • The actors of said in the recent Australian production hooked up.
  • Extension: Mark is bi, but has the hots for Angel.
    • Evidence: Angel is at the very least Mark's muse, since Angel's death is what inspires him to finish his work. Mark might not recognize it because it's the nineties, so he might think that he's only attracted to Angel when dressed as a woman, but there's definitely something there.
      • Mark doesn't seem to identify Angel as a woman. He has to be reminded of Angel's pronouns when delivering his part of Angel's eulogy, after first using male pronouns.

Rent is just Newsies with AIDS.
Both are about people refusing to work (some of them with valid reasons), both have a song called "Santa Fe" praising the city that neither singer has been to, and both feature a main character's supposed betrayal that was actually to help the cause. The characters line up, too:
  • Roger = Jack (both harbor dark pasts, bail for Santa Fe, & come back to their friends & loved ones).
  • Mark = David (both are Jewish & take care of Roger/Jack).
  • Mimi = Medda (duh) + Sarah (Roger/Jack's love interest).
  • Angel = Crutchy (the one character everyone likes gets neutralized halfway through both stories & shows up again in the last minute).
  • Collins = Boots (friendly, mischievous black guys).
  • Maureen = Spot or Racetrack (a little more talk than action).
  • Benny = Pulitzer or Weasel (this one's kinda weak, I admit).
  • Joanne = ...Um, I can't think of a character that serves her purpose in Newsies...for that matter, I can't think of what her purpose is in Rent, other than to sing the awesome counterpoint on "I'll Cover You (Reprise)" that no one else in the cast can hit.
    • And Take Me Or Leave Me. And Seasons of Love (In the movie). And Tango Maureen. And...
      • And so Mark isn't with Maureen.

Certain songs were unfinished before Larson died.
I steadfastly refuse to believe that "think twice before you pooh-pooh it" is anything but a temporary lyic. It even breaks up the rhyme scheme.
  • ...Except that Larson died the day before the play premiered. It would've made no sense to randomly change the song the actors have been rehearsing for months on the night of the premiere.
    • Larson died the day before the first preview at New York Theatre Workshop. It's common to do rewrites during previews; considering that the show was already collecting buzz for a commercial transfer at that point, it's quite likely that Larson (and Michael Greif, and Tim Weil, and everybody else) had a long list of probable revisions to make.
  • This is true. I saw a documentary about Jonathan Larson and it said he was working on the show up until his death.
    • Yep. And people who knew the show and Jonathan personally say that, if he hadn't died, he would have continued to make a ton of revisions. The man was always looking to make his show better.
Angel is genderqueer.
That's why Mark doesn't know whether to call Angel "he" or "she" during the funeral, and why Angel dresses as both a man and a woman at different times.
  • Makes sense to me. I always figured she was in the grey areas of gender.
  • Mark explicitly refers to Angel as a drag queen at Angel's funeral. Collins, who is closest to Angel, being Angel's partner, living with Angel and nursing Angel through AIDS, uses male pronounces to refer to Angel, as well as calling Angel a boy, which Angel doesn't seem to mind. The characters who use female pronouns to refer to Angel seem to really only know Angel when Angel is presenting as a woman; it's polite in drag culture, too, to use the pronouns of the gender the person is presenting as (unless they specify otherwise). Angel chooses to present as a man at Life Support meetings, and Mark has attended these, so he has seen Angel both ways, which could explain his confusion. Angel's gender IS ill-defined, but the clues that DO exist in the play point far more in the direction of Angel as a drag queen than as identifying as any form of non-binary gender.

Mimi was pretending to have AIDS.
AIDS was becoming more sympathizable as drug use was becoming more scorned, and she could take advantage of that if she pretended to have AIDS and downplayed (or outright hid) her heroin addiction. If she met and became involved with someone who actually did have AIDS/HIV, it would give her a way to start a relationship that would feel meaningful and eventually fulfill the death wish that she had until Roger's song and Angel's memory/spirit brought her back) (a death wish which was at least very, very vaguely implied in the play, if I'm not reading too much or too little into parts of her character). Using prescription-grade stimulants (amphetamine-type) under the guise of AZT would help her counteract the more obvious side effects of heroin use and withdrawal while still leaving her to her weakening and wasting away. This would only work on people who walked into it assuming she was telling the truth and didn't know about the heroin use or who assumed she got AIDS as a result of something like needle-sharing (because who would ever lie that they had AIDS?); a former heroin addict and current AIDS sufferer knew and/or assumed that she was a heroin addict didn't realize she (supposedly) had AIDS until she stopped for an "AZT break". Her collapse on Christmas Eve, which I assumed to be an overdose? Was just an overdose.

Despite creating and (on a whim) making a case for the guess as an Alternate Character Interpretation, I didn't believe this myself until I came to this point: If she had AIDS, why would Benny sustain a relationship with her? It's not for sex, since nothing was ever given to indicate that he had AIDS/HIV (Yes, I do understand that even back then when treatments weren't as advanced as they now, many people were willing to trust thin, easily-broken latex barriers for long-term protection against this sort of thing). Status? She was a possibly-former stripper- or "[[Insistent Terminology S&M dancer]]"- who last year had the purported best hindquarters in the area but was canonically wasting away. A relationship built on love and mutual respect? Unless they both felt like lying about it in the same way, for some odd and so far obscure reason, this is definitely not the case. Spite? He didn't seem to care enough about Roger in particular to take her away with the sole purpose of causing him pain. The only reason I could figure for their relationship as it was shown (aside from the above parenthetical) was if Mimi didn't have AIDS and Benny knew.

During "What You Own", Mark is considering suicide.
Throughout the song, he's been singing about "living in America". Then, in the film version, he's standing on the edge of the roof and declares, "I quit," and switches to singing about dying for the next verse. It might not come across like that in other productions, but the fact he's standing at the edge of a roof in the film suggests he might be thinking about jumping.

Angel is male-identified
There seems to be debates about hir gender. It seems like ze only uses female pronouns in drag, which is a common things for drag queens and crossdressers.
  • See above; Mark explicitly calls Angel a drag queen at Angel's funeral. Angel chooses to present as a man at Life Support meetings. Collins consistently refers to Angel using male pronouns. The only characters who don't are characters who really only know Angel when Angel is presenting in drag, with the exception of Mark who has seen Angel both in AND out of drag, and shows confusion about which pronouns to use at the funeral. Rent is also set at a time when New York City had a strong drag culture, particularly in Black and Latin@ communities, and while Angel's race/ethnicity is not canonically specified, casting choices and various clues in the play have consistently implied that Angel is Black and/or Latin@ (the original Broadway Angel, who won a Tony for his portrayal, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, is Dominicano). Angel could very well be intended to represent this subculture.

Alison (Benny's wife) and Ali (Life Support) are the same person.
I know the Life Support names vary by production, and "Ali" can be stand-alone or short for other things, but going by the script it's spelled the same way it would be as a nickname for "Alison"
  • Which could also justify the Fridge Logic of Benny cheating on her with Mimi even though Mimi has AIDS.
    • Doesn't Ali vanish during one of the later songs when it implies the people in life support are dying?
  • "Ali" isn't a canonical name. As you note, the names were chosen to represent individuals known by cast and crew who had died due to AIDS.

Mark dies at the end of La Vie Boheme
Throughout the show, Mark is probably the most clean character: we never see him drink or smoke, he doesn't have AIDS, he's straight, he does nothing romantically to any character, he's Jewish, etc. So, by "La Vie Boheme," he's realized that his life has no meaning and he's done nothing interesting but film his friends. So he finally snaps and sings "La Vie Boheme," swearing more than he ever does anywhere else in the show. He drinks himself to death in the song, and dies. "Seasons of Love" is his funeral. From that point on, Mark is a ghost only seen by Roger. No one else interacts with Mark except one instance during Mimi's death when Joanne yells up into their apartment, "Mark! Roger!," which could be her correcting herself out of habit. The final Tune Up is Roger playing Mark's unreleased footage for the first time. Buzzline left messages but never got a response from Mark since they didn't know he died.
  • This theory doesn't make much sense, as almost everything that happens to him in act 2 contradicts this. He clearly interacts with other people in act 2, going to buzzline with Joanne and eventually working there, he attempts to calm everybody down in "Goodbye Love," and he tries to help Mimi in the same song. ("I know a place/a clinic) In the stage version Mark's mom calls, and there's no way she wouldn't know if he had died. Finally, if he had died, the final documentary would've been about people living in New York instead of focusing on Angel's life (and other people with HIV), as he only realized the idea in "What You Own". I'm not entirely sure where you got this idea from.

Angel didn't mean to kill Evita.
Angel was paid to play drums outside Alison and Benny's place as revenge for all the noise their dog made. Normally, a dog in this situation would just "join in" by barking. No one expected the dog to "commit suicide" by jumping. Either Evita got so excited by the noise of the drums she didn't realize how close to the edge she was or someone up there (Benny?) got sick of the noise and punted that akita to her death.
  • That would be a nice idea to exonerate Angel of any murderous intent, but the lady's instructions in Today 4 You make the intention of killing the dog, not just giving the neighbors a taste of their own medicine, pretty explicit.
    This akita, Evita, just won't shut up.
    I believe if you played non-stop that pup
    Would breathe its very last high-strung breath.
    I'm certain that cur will bark itself to death.
  • I have always interpreted Angel killing Evita as a fairly literal example of Shooting the Dog, that is, a morally ambiguous act committed mostly out of pragmatism. It shows that Angel has to hustle to survive.

After quitting his job, Mark cuts together a documentary showcasing the horrors of AIDS and its victims' attempt to stay optimistic in the face of their terminal illness. This groundbreaking docudrama (dedicated to Angel) is Mark's breakthrough feature, and he goes on to a successful career. The show is a stylised representation of the film he makes.
  • Which is why it's not weird that he's narrating everything, even when he doesn't appear to be filming! You are so brilliant, I could kiss you!
  • What about the parts of "What You Own" in which we see and hear Riger, even though he's 1990 miles away from Mark and his camera?

Benny never actually told Mark and Roger they didn't have to pay rent.

Either Mark and Roger are remembering the interpretation they want to be true or they're straight up trying to gaslight Benny by insisting he said something he didn't say, but either way, Benny never had any intention of letting them live there perpetually rent-free. He really doesn't seem to be such an asshole as to demand an entire year's worth of payment on Christmas unless he's been pushed off over and over. And, from the scene at Life Cafe, we know Mark really has an incredible disregard for the value of others' time and money. He's terribly entitled. So, for example, Benny says "You're golden," meaning he'll be a good landlord and not drive prices up and they simply take it to mean what they want it to mean.

Roger never makes it to Santa Fe.

He has to sell his guitar to buy a car, which can't be a particularly good car, and that doesn't account for how he manages to pay for gas to get all the way there (let alone all the way back). Only in the movie do we see Roger actually IN Santa Fe (though granted Rent has minimal staging anyway). We know he leaves on Halloween, the same day as Angel's funeral, and the play ends on Christmas Eve, which gives him a solid two months, but it's unclear exactly where on that timeline "What You Own" falls and Roger makes it back to New York City, since nothing happens onstage between "What You Own" and the finale. Accounting for driving time both to and from Arizona in a shitty car, even if he did get there he couldn't have been there long. The film even shows him already back in New York when the search for Mimi is on (the film states, for around a month). Taking all that into account, it's very possible he made it no further than the New York border before he had his epiphany and turned the car around.
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