Life After Rent

Can Broadway woo a younger, more diverse crowd? Two new shows aim to try

Joan Marcus

In the Heights uses hip-hop and salsa to animate its family-friendly tale about the residents of a Latino neighborhood on the verge of change

Compared with the crowded, colorful displays of loot in most Broadway theater lobbies, the merchandise counter for Rent looks downright spare: a modest assortment of sweatshirts, mugs, CDs and T shirts in basic-grunge black-and-white. The show, too--on my first return visit since reviewing it 12 years ago--looks a bit paler than it did back in 1996, when it opened off-Broadway to so much acclaim that it made the jump to Broadway just two months later. The aids-centric story lines in this East Village update of La Bohème seem a little dated now, and the umpteenth replacement cast doesn't have the snap,...

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