Anthony Rapps’s Without You – An Epilogue and Half a Play

Disclaimer: Though fully aware of the tragedy of Jonathan Larson’s untimely passing and of the supportive community nature of his musical Rent, I haven’t seen any of its iterations. I conjecture that experience is required in order be affected by Anthony Rapp’s memory piece.

What I call the “epilogue” is adapted from the author/performer’s written memoir about acting in the workshop and original productions of Rent at age of 24 and of becoming its creator’s friend. The basic story would be age old were it not for Larson’s death and Pulitzer Prize. Full-out renditions of some of the numbers from the score are performed. It’s clear Rapp was deeply affected.

The “half a play” concerns this performer’s close relationship with his dying mother which overlaps slightly with the bare bones (just the facts, ma’am) tale of Rent as his “mama” has several operations. It then continues perhaps 20 minutes too long delineating every phone call and touching visit until her death. This part too has few personal specifics.

Apparently Rapp lost two meaningful people in a short time. “One Song Glory” (from Rent) declares: Glory, one blaze of glory/One blaze of glory, glory/ Find, glory, in a song that rings true/Truth like a blazing fire, an eternal flame/ Find, one song, a song about love… In Rapp’s script the two deaths have only tenuous, unexplored connection.

The actor is fully committed, energetic, sincere and has a helluva long note.

Direction by Stephen Maler is fine, but he has little to work with in terms of dramatic content.

Additional music by David Matos, Joe Pisapia, Daniel A. Weiss, Anthony Rapp is uniformly tuneless- prose with music. David Bengali’s photographic patchwork projection design is outstanding- aesthetically pleasing and evocative.

Otherwise yeoman lighting by Eric Southern features intermittent flare of painful high beams that leave one with lingering spots before eyes. Necessary? Brian Ronan’s sound design works well with the rock music score.

Photos by Russ Rowland

Anthony Rapp’s Without You
Written and Starring Anthony Rapp based on his memoir
Featuring the music of Jonathan Larson

New World Stages  
340 West 50 Street
Through June 11, 2023

About Alix Cohen (1725 Articles)
Alix Cohen is the recipient of ten New York Press Club Awards for work published on this venue. Her writing history began with poetry, segued into lyrics and took a commercial detour while holding executive positions in product development, merchandising, and design. A cultural sponge, she now turns her diverse personal and professional background to authoring pieces about culture/the arts with particular interest in artists/performers and entrepreneurs. Theater, music, art/design are lifelong areas of study and passion. She is a voting member of Drama Desk and Drama League. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World, TheaterLife, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, Times Square Chronicles, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course.