Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent
by Anthony Rapp
Anthony Rapp captures the passion and grit unique to the theatre world as he recounts his life-changing experience in the original cast of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent.
Anthony had a special feeling about Jonathan Larson’s rock musical from his first audition, so he was thrilled when he landed a starring role as the filmmaker Mark Cohen. With his mom’s cancer in remission and a reason to quit his newly acquired job at Starbucks, his life was looking up.
When Rent opened to thunderous acclaim off Broadway, Rapp and his fellow cast members knew that something truly extraordinary had taken shape. But even as friends and family were celebrating the show’s success, they were also mourning Jonathan Larson’s sudden death from an aortic aneurysm. By the time Rent made its triumphant jump to Broadway, Larson had posthumously won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize. When Anthony’s mom began to lose her battle with cancer, he struggled to balance the demands of life in the theatre with his responsibility to his family. Here, Anthony recounts the show’s magnificent success and his overwhelming loss. He also shares his first experiences discovering his sexuality, the tension it created with his mother, and his struggle into adulthood to gain her acceptance.
Variously marked by fledgling love and devastating loss, piercing frustration and powerful enlightenment, Without You charts the course of Rapp’s exhilarating journey with the cast and crew of Rent as well as the intimacies of his personal life behind the curtain.
My Thoughts: I do not read many biographies, but I have to ask myself why after finishing Without You. It was a really great read, at times funny, a lot of sadness, sometimes uplifting, sometimes infuriating, but always honest. Anthony Rapp shares his mother’s illness and ultimate death during the time he started with the musical Rent. Anthony is a complicated person, sometimes completely caring and unselfish, but at other times selfish and self-absorbed. He presents both sides of himself, revealing the hidden thoughts felt when someone you love is dying. Having lost my father to a prolonged illness, I was able to relate to some of this feelings- there are times you just want peace and release for your loved one, but when the moment of death actually comes you find yourself taking back the wish. Rapp deals with some uncomfortable subjects in this book- there is family abuse (his grandmother’s a piece of work), his bisexuality and the resulting difficulty connecting to his family, and there is one scene of violence with a boyfriend that had me wondering if Rapp had done that to a girlfriend if his friends and cast mates would have been so understanding. This is not the same boy that played Darryl Coopersmith in Adventures in Babysitting, but it is the man that plays Mark in Rent. Rapp is neurotic, funny and heartbreaking. The look behind the scenes at the beginning of Rent were wonderful to read as a fan. And the fact that he was friends with Andy Dick, and that Dick’s parents were the ones that outed Rapp to his mom was funny. I might have to watch both Adventures in Babysitting and Rent tonight… but it’s all good since I already own them both! Thanks to my friend, Courtney for lending me this book.:)
Without You gets a Midnight Book Rating of: