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Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Cross-posted at Shelf Inflicted and at Outlaw Reviews I’ve wanted to read this for a while, but not before seeing at least the movie version of Rent. Off to the library I went and borrowed a copy of both film and book. I’m certain I would have appreciated this story, loosely based on Puccini's La Bohème, a lot more in its original version as a play, and had I been about 30 years younger. Back then I probably would have been able to empathize with a cast of talentless characters who wanted to succ Cross-posted at Shelf Inflicted and at Outlaw Reviews I’ve wanted to read this for a while, but not before seeing at least the movie version of Rent. Off to the library I went and borrowed a copy of both film and book. I’m certain I would have appreciated this story, loosely based on Puccini's La Bohème, a lot more in its original version as a play, and had I been about 30 years younger. Back then I probably would have been able to empathize with a cast of talentless characters who wanted to succeed as artists, but who could barely keep a roof over their heads. Now, I just look at them with disdain and wish they would find a job. If the characters were likable, I may have been able to forgive their flaws. They were miserable, whiny, self-indulgent, irresponsible and lazy. The story took place in New York, but nothing in the film reminded me of the city. The songs, while sung with passion, were loud and repetitive, and by the film’s conclusion, I could barely remember a single song or any of the lyrics. There are other films that deal with drug addiction, homosexuality, poverty and AIDS much more sensitively. Sadly, this was not one of them. Even though I didn’t care for Rent, I enjoyed reading of the hard work, love, passion and joy that went into making the play. “Chills shot up my arms and spine and the back of my head. I had never heard a song like it, especially in a musical; there was a directness and a simplicity and a groove to it that were thrillingly new to my ears. I felt everyone in the room lean forward into the music.” Anthony Rapp, who played Mark Cohen in the play and film, wrote a very powerful, touching and honest memoir detailing his theater experiences, his relationships with cast members, family and friends, his sexuality, and his mother’s battle with cancer. Even if you haven’t seen, or are not a fan of Rent, this engrossing memoir is well worth reading. Anthony writes so candidly, openly and personally about his life and work, that I often felt I was sitting across a table from him rather than reading his book. Very well done.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dawn F

    If I could give this book ten stars I fucking would.

  3. 5 out of 5

    DivaDiane

    I am grateful to Anthony for having written this book. His writing is eloquent and revealing. He is brutally honest about the less savory aspects of his personality and events in his life and he comes out the other side, if not elegantly, with a sort of grace that comes with growth. As a (albeit much less successful) performer myself, and being almost exactly the same generation as Anthony and also from a midwestern Catholic family, there were many many things I felt I could directly relate to. I am grateful to Anthony for having written this book. His writing is eloquent and revealing. He is brutally honest about the less savory aspects of his personality and events in his life and he comes out the other side, if not elegantly, with a sort of grace that comes with growth. As a (albeit much less successful) performer myself, and being almost exactly the same generation as Anthony and also from a midwestern Catholic family, there were many many things I felt I could directly relate to. Despite being a straight female I find it wonderful how Anthony has bravely become a champion and role model of gay rights. I think of my best friend in High School who suffered greatly as the only open gay boy at our school and wished that he had had a role model like Anthony to look up to and contact and speak to. I love how humbly Anthony speaks of his work as a performer and how engagingly he shows that he is just a regular guy who also struggles with life and death and success and failure. Thank you, Anthony. What I (happily?) have no connection to is losing a parent. Mine are both alive. I know that everyone deals with grief in their own way, so even though I can’t really relate to Anthony’s grief, he makes it so tangible that it works for the reader as a catharsis as well. Edit (May 2021): This came up on my feed and rereading my review I realize that a few short months after I read this (March 2020) my own mother died. The circumstances were much different to Anthony’s though. My mother died after a few days in the hospital and I was on another continent. I will listen to Anthony’s recounting because I’m sure there’s something new I can relate to now.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alex Bright

    The most profoundly honest story of personal growth I've ever read. There's bravery in sharing such intimate moments of your life without flinching from your own flawed, achingly human reactions and thoughts. I wouldn't want to trivialize those moments with my own comments. I'm sure there will be more chapters added some day, and I look forward to experiencing them. Preferably with more happy tears. The most profoundly honest story of personal growth I've ever read. There's bravery in sharing such intimate moments of your life without flinching from your own flawed, achingly human reactions and thoughts. I wouldn't want to trivialize those moments with my own comments. I'm sure there will be more chapters added some day, and I look forward to experiencing them. Preferably with more happy tears.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gabi

    Re-read 2019/5/11: This time I listened to the audiobook read by the author himself and I would love to give this an extra star. Yet since I'm already at 5 .... The reading is so good! --------- I picked up the book, cause I liked the casting photo of Anthony Rapp on the Discovery announcement. Weird reason, but sometimes I see somebody I don’t know the slightest bit of and get curious, cause something in the facial expression speaks to me. I had no idea of Anthony Rapp and of Rent and just wanted Re-read 2019/5/11: This time I listened to the audiobook read by the author himself and I would love to give this an extra star. Yet since I'm already at 5 .... The reading is so good! --------- I picked up the book, cause I liked the casting photo of Anthony Rapp on the Discovery announcement. Weird reason, but sometimes I see somebody I don’t know the slightest bit of and get curious, cause something in the facial expression speaks to me. I had no idea of Anthony Rapp and of Rent and just wanted to learn a bit about both person and show. What I didn’t expect, was to find my own personal therapeutic book here. When my mother died of cancer my two boys were still very young. It was the first death they witnessed and I wanted to move heaven and earth to bring it to them in a way that death was a natural thing, that it was nothing to be afraid of – well, the usual stuff a mother thinks best for her kids. What I didn’t do – and what I didn’t even fully realise until I read these memoires – was to give myself time for my loss and my anger. When I came across the line where Rapp states, that he didn’t want to get any more phone calls like that from home (a message that his mother was worse again), git hit me in the guts. This feeling I came to know so intimately and at the same time I always felt ashamed of, cause the ones who really suffered the most were the folks back at home. To read this line was like a revelation – I was not alone. This book first opened scars I didn’t know I had and then allowed me to let them heal. Allowing myself for the first time to be angry, to feel self pity, to go through all the contradictionary feelings – to finally cry (a lot). And being told that everything was okay. That it was completely okay how I felt. There is beauty and deepest sadness side by side at the same time – and both are true, both are me. I very much enjoyed the rough and authentic prose of the book, the insight into the stage life and into a young, rebellious mind – but what made this novel so precious and so personal for me was indeed the honest recounting of the slow cancer dying of Rapp’s mother. Listening to Rapp perform these memoires on CD is even more intense. The feeling he is able to bring to his voice is overwhelming. I started reading, because I wanted to learn a bit more about the author, and I ended up learning a lot more about myself. I can not thank you enough for that, Anthony Rapp! (And, BTW, this book also made me watch the Rent-movie, buy the musical score and play the songs on my piano …)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    Very good. I was inspired to read it because I'm going to see Rent this weekend, starring original Broadway (and movie) cast members Rapp and Adam Pascal. Rapp was very open and honest in this book, sharing primarily his memories of his journey as one of the original members of the Rent cast, through Jonathan Larson's death and opening on Broadway, and most of all through his mother's life and death. Having lost my mother to cancer as well, I really identified with a lot of what he went through. Very good. I was inspired to read it because I'm going to see Rent this weekend, starring original Broadway (and movie) cast members Rapp and Adam Pascal. Rapp was very open and honest in this book, sharing primarily his memories of his journey as one of the original members of the Rent cast, through Jonathan Larson's death and opening on Broadway, and most of all through his mother's life and death. Having lost my mother to cancer as well, I really identified with a lot of what he went through. My favorite line is a quote from one of his brother, Adam Rapp's Plays (Nocturne), "Grief does not expire like a candle or the beacon on a lighthouse. It simply changes temperature."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kathrina

    Overshare? Why, yes I will, thank you. For a condensed review: This is a great memoir, not just about Rent, but about grief and love and honesty. For way more information about most-likely-irrelevant-to-you connections I made to my own experience, read here...(view spoiler)[I was raised on a steady diet of musical theatre. My dad spent most of his career behind the stages of Broadway and off-Broadway productions, and he met my mother in the touring company of Cabaret -- he the stage manager, she Overshare? Why, yes I will, thank you. For a condensed review: This is a great memoir, not just about Rent, but about grief and love and honesty. For way more information about most-likely-irrelevant-to-you connections I made to my own experience, read here...(view spoiler)[I was raised on a steady diet of musical theatre. My dad spent most of his career behind the stages of Broadway and off-Broadway productions, and he met my mother in the touring company of Cabaret -- he the stage manager, she a failed actress doomed with a committed heart to the stage, playing a walk-on trombone player in a sexy beaded leotard. By the time I came around Dad had settled in to a stable position with 20th Century Fox, and Mom found her niche in writing and raising me. But most evenings found me and Dad curled up on the chocolate-brown shag carpeting of the den, surrounded by the highest tech audio equipment available in the 1970's, blasting the torch songs of Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, and Carol Channing at their highest volume. Maybe it goes without saying that Dad was a little eccentric. Always his daughter and eager to please him, I was also a bit of a set-piece for him, dressing me in vintage gowns with ostrich plumes, choreographing sets to "Sam, You Made the Pants to Long" for my gymnastics class, and parading me at cocktail parties filled with theatre/film people I didn't realize were famous at the time. I sometimes think that if the biology had been right, I'd have been a knockout gay boy. It's possible he thought that, too. I did a lot of theatre in high school and college, even pursued a theatre degree for a few years, and nearly died from anxiety every time Dad showed up for a performance. He was extremely critical with every show he saw, and always blatantly straightforward with his opinions of my performance. I think he was proud of me but also very scared that a life in theatre, a life I told him I wanted, was too fraught with rejection for my sensitive soul to survive. But I knew that when he said I did well, I probably did. Theatre was our connection, and as I continued through school and found other fields to pursue, I always felt closest to him in a theatre, or any room with a musical soundtrack playing through the speakers. In 1991 he moved to Eastern Europe. A new stage of his life had begun, bringing his eccentric weirdness to the hapless villagers of Transylvania. I missed him terribly. His connection to the theatre world was pretty much severed, and I tried to keep him up to speed with my new favorites. He gave his seal of approval on a few, which made me enjoy them even more -- especially Wicked, the kind-of forgotten now Freudiana, and, of course, Rent. I like to pepper my netflix queue with a good dose of musical theatre, mostly to relive that connection I had with my father. Rent came in my mailbox last week. I waited for an afternoon when I was alone, afraid that my vulnerability to my dad's memory and the overwhelming heart of the story and music might embarrass me in front of friends and family. True to expectations, I cried as I watched it, then watched the dvd documentary special feature and cried some more. My boyfriend came home and caught me drying my tears. Sweetly, he asked to watch it, too, so I saw it a second time and cried some more, just to be sharing it with someone I love. I knew I had an old used copy of Rapp's memoir on my shelves somewhere, and I dove into it as soon as the credits rolled. No, that's not true. First I had a smoke to compose myself, and my boyfriend did something incredible. He's a really smart and sensitive, thoughful guy, but he almost never talks about movies he's seen or fiction he's read. I think he was raised to feel defensive about his personal feelings and emotional responses, coming from a household with such huge differences of worldview and philosophies. He hates confrontation and the vulnerability of verbalizing emotion, a theme I saw a lot, by the way, in this memoir. Anyway, Aaron came outside and said, "That was beautiful." Of his own free will. He said that, even though his life was nothing like the lives of the characters, he could identify with each one of them. It moved him. His comment moved me. So the memoir starts with some great behind-the-scenes action of the studio production of Rent and the life of a NY actor. Fun stuff. Then we're introduced to Rapp's family, and his mother's illness takes center stage. As we understand their relationship we also learn about Rapp's attempts to come out to his mother and his early experiences with homosexuality. We frequently return to renthead-mania, as he continues with the off- and on-Broadway run, but it really just syncopates to the story of his mother's long and painful demise and Rapp's struggle with his own grief. I didn't know that's what I was getting in to, and, on this most emotional evening, I began to feel the sorrow of my own father's death. And, because I love to overshare, I'm going to tell you about it: Dad died in 2006, when I was 33 years old. I lived in Iowa, he lived in Romania. He died of heart failure due to HIV-related complications. I was told he'd died over the phone. He was such a long, long way away, and the news split me in half. I'd been preparing for his death since I was 13, but it didn't make it any easier. Dad contracted HIV sometime in the late '70's. He told me about it in the mid '80's. And, the anomaly that he always is, he miraculously survived for 20 more years, without ever developing AIDS. Who knows what made his chemistry resistant, though he took the drug cocktails available, and allowed doctors to prod and experiment with new drugs and regimens, but his auto-immune system eventually gave up, attacked by circulation problems, heart conditions, severe arthritis, and just a general, undefinable, manic-depressive craziness that conquered his brain. But those were 20 long years of bracing ourselves through every illness, every depression, every doctor's visit with -- this could be it; this could be the end. It took Rapp's mother a long time to find her peace, and it took Rapp a lifetime, as well. Rapp writes so honestly and nakedly about his love, his fears, his faults, that I felt right there with him. His writing gets a bit flowery, with all kinds of energy and electricity flowing and jolting and careening through his body at every opportunity, but I didn't mind so much. As an actor, he's very plugged in to emotional response, and I enjoyed his visceral descriptions. And I loved, loved his honesty. When he performed well, he told you; when he was a fool, he admitted it. When he kissed a boy, he admitted that, too, and his example of living honestly and bravely will be just the right medicine for a generation of readers, once they realize that this is not just a book about a musical. (hide spoiler)]

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sel

    I didn't get to fully immerse myself in RENT until the movie was released in 2005. After seeing it at the movie theater, I quickly bought the dvd and consumed all the extras, getting to learn more about the cast and how RENT made it to the stage. This love of RENT led me to Anthony's book. I was intrigued by him because he was with the show from the beginning and because I was curious about his journey as Mark. I remember first reading this book around 2008. I loved it at the time - mostly becau I didn't get to fully immerse myself in RENT until the movie was released in 2005. After seeing it at the movie theater, I quickly bought the dvd and consumed all the extras, getting to learn more about the cast and how RENT made it to the stage. This love of RENT led me to Anthony's book. I was intrigued by him because he was with the show from the beginning and because I was curious about his journey as Mark. I remember first reading this book around 2008. I loved it at the time - mostly because I got to learn more about Anthony and the "making of" RENT. Since then, I was lucky enough to see him perform in the show while on tour (2009). I reread the book earlier this year, and I appreciated it even more this time around. I've been lucky enough not to experience much loss and grief in my life. However, I can fully appreciate Anthony's honesty and openness, not only about his grief, but throughout the book. I can also relate to the moments when he shared some truly "out of body" episodes as he was going through both the best and worst experiences of his life. Anthony does an excellent job at expressing himself and I found myself crying many times throughout this poignant story. Lastly, I heard good things about the audiobook and decided to give it a try. I just finished it, so this is fresh in my mind. Listening to this book made me experience it on another, deeper level. Anthony himself narrated it, making it much more personal. His grief and emotions throughout are palpable and often left me feeling very emotional. *Bonus: He has an excellent voice and is lovely to listen to.* This book is a great read to learn more about RENT and it's history of becoming a big hit. However, it is MUCH more that that. It's a story about grief and working through it, as well as about Anthony's life - growing up in the business, his sexuality, and about family struggles. I have so much respect for Anthony Rapp and what he's gone through in his life. I've recommended this amazing book to many others in my life.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tiger Gray

    So if you go in to this hoping for funny behind the scenes vignettes from working on RENT for so long, this will disappoint you. This is much more a memoir and less a light hearted tell all. Some things you should know before reading this: 1) this review is deeply personal so if you could avoid flaming or trolling it, it would be even more appreciated than usual, and 2) I am a massive RENThead and have been since I was fourteen so I might be a teensy bit biased. That said I am giving it four sta So if you go in to this hoping for funny behind the scenes vignettes from working on RENT for so long, this will disappoint you. This is much more a memoir and less a light hearted tell all. Some things you should know before reading this: 1) this review is deeply personal so if you could avoid flaming or trolling it, it would be even more appreciated than usual, and 2) I am a massive RENThead and have been since I was fourteen so I might be a teensy bit biased. That said I am giving it four stars because I went in to it expecting something different than what I got, so call it a star sacrificed on the altar of dissonance. Death is one of the most heartbreaking things you will ever experience. Much is made of love being the strongest emotion a human can experience, but that is false. It is grief. There are so few words to describe the feeling that comes over you when your best friend in this entire world, the friend that made you finally believe you deserved love, dies, and dies after suffering. But even his death was a gift because now I don’t shy away from mortality. I won’t be Anthony, trying to find out what to say to my dying mother or maybe another friend with a terminal illness. One thing people don’t tell you about death is that when the person you loved most in the world, a person you would call a soul mate even though your relationship never had the slightest hint of romance, dies…everyone comes to pick his corpse. People take pieces away. His heart, his lungs. His eyes. His face (prompting his young son to ask "does daddy have a face?". But the worst thing is when they take his voice, his mouth, and make his fleshless jaw move. Suddenly my sweet friend who had only raised his voice to me once in our entire relationship was made to say things, for example, in support of homophobia. Suddenly people’s opinions, no matter how divergent from his, were followed with “and he would have agreed.” When Anthony speaks about seeing his mother’s picture at the funeral, how it looked nothing like her, that familiar heavy shroud pressed on my chest. Suddenly she wasn’t his mother anymore, but a patchwork quilt of memories, a delicate thing of spiderwebs and shadows that could no longer be said to resemble a person. People remembered selectively, in ways that benefited them. Anthony also talks about the emotional affair he had with one man while being trapped in an abusive relationship with another. This played out in my life a couple of times. You’re too afraid to leave so you find an outlet in someone else. Everyone leaves broken. And even though it is Anthony who finally throws a punch, it’s Todd who is the abuser. It’s Todd who presses Anthony over and over, besetting him with jealousy and paranoia and neuroticism until Anthony becomes everything the abuser tells him he is. He cheats. He lashes out. He has been told for so long that he is sick and fucked in the head that he slowly becomes the monster his abuser tells him he is. And then when Anthony finally snaps and hits Todd after days of abuse, Todd gets to tell everyone that Anthony hit him, you see, and therefore Anthony is really the abusive one. It’s a neat little series of tricks that all abusers know by heart. And then when his mother finally dies, the culture of silence in his family is heartbreaking to watch. At a time when people should be honest, they can't figure out what to say to each other. They deprive one another, Anthony and his siblings, of the comfort that could be given in such a life changing moment. Really, Anthony's life is the story of RENT itself, in a way. He plays Mark, an emotionally detached film maker and one of the only characters not struggling to find meaning even as they fight AIDS. He's a hypocrite too, "preaching not to be numb, when that's how you thrive." So even though his personal life orients around his mother's cancer and not a friend with AIDS, the association is there. When the show's creator drops dead (quite literally, a weak valve in his heart knocking him to the ground and finishing him off) on opening night, the only way Anthony can even attempt to process his grief and shock is by pouring it in to his performance. Therefore this book is powerful, particularly if you've ever struggled with any of these issues. Anthony is queer, too, at a time even more hostile to alternative sexualities than now. His alienation is all over the pages of this little book, and anyone who knows the sting of isolation will find something to relate to here. While you won't find many RENT stories, you will find something better: honesty.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    Anyone who follows my Twitter account knows this book absolutely devastated me. I read it on two legs of a cross-country flight and the people around me were absolutely giving me concerned looks as I teared up and sniffled and once even stopped reading, set the book down and closed my eyes to take deep breaths. It hit home. So much of Anthony Rapp's life parallels my own. Not perfectly, of course -- I'm not claiming to be the man's twin. There are some obvious differences -- the successful theate Anyone who follows my Twitter account knows this book absolutely devastated me. I read it on two legs of a cross-country flight and the people around me were absolutely giving me concerned looks as I teared up and sniffled and once even stopped reading, set the book down and closed my eyes to take deep breaths. It hit home. So much of Anthony Rapp's life parallels my own. Not perfectly, of course -- I'm not claiming to be the man's twin. There are some obvious differences -- the successful theater career being a biggie. But we're both gay. We both had teen experiences with that that our mothers didn't handle well upon discovery. We both struggled to gain our mother's (and in my case, father's) acceptance. We both lost our mothers to protracted battles with cancer that featured at least one "she's got this beat" rebound. And seeing these parallels woven around the story of RENT's journey from workshop to Pulitzer-winning Broadway hit was kind of surreal for me. "Seeing your life paralleled in a book isn't enough to give it five stars," you might say. Valid point, to which I'd respond first that there are plenty of technically proficient classics I've read that didn't resonate with me on an emotional level the way this book did (my fall-back example for this is always "The Catcher In The Rye," which left me cold). Outside of that, what works for me about this book is that Rapp writes with open and free emotion; he's not trying to recall these events from a cold disconnected distance, not trying to cast a critical eye on what happened. He wrote this book on the eve of the release of the movie version of RENT, and most likely that's what brought the context so sharply into focus -- maybe, just maybe, this book would not have been so emotional if he'd written it when he's 70 -- but whether Rapp carries these scars and triumphs with him daily or making the movie brought them back to the fore is irrelevant. The story Rapp has to tell is intensely personal for those of us who have dealt with coming out and the loss of a loved one to a horrible disease and just as intensely universal for anyone who has experienced loss and loss.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I met Anthony at summer camp and we only really chatted once. Even then, I think everyone recognized his incredible talent and so he had a reputation of being one of the kids who was going to make it really big. I also remember both the guys he talked about in the book - Ben was so funny and I remember him always cracking us up. He was always on the edge and even then I worried for him because despite being totally hilarious, he seemed, well... too close to the edge. It was so sad to hear the st I met Anthony at summer camp and we only really chatted once. Even then, I think everyone recognized his incredible talent and so he had a reputation of being one of the kids who was going to make it really big. I also remember both the guys he talked about in the book - Ben was so funny and I remember him always cracking us up. He was always on the edge and even then I worried for him because despite being totally hilarious, he seemed, well... too close to the edge. It was so sad to hear the story of his death to AIDS but also great to hear how he made his own interpretation of his illness. That was powerful. And yet I can't believe he's gone. His memoir brought back a LOT of memories for me. Navy blue corduroy knickers, "coke dates", making tapes for your friends, waterfights and campfires.... and something I had totally forgotten - star spinning. I remember our cabin had a co-ed camp-out on the boys side of the woods and that night we were all star-spinning. To be young again..... anyways, I digress... What I really appreciated about this book was Rapp's complete honesty about his feelings and his life experiences. One impression I had of him is that he's not the most open guy with people he doesn't know (apparently even with people he does know) so I give him a ton of credit for writing something like this. It gave me a really good insight into how difficult it is to come-out to your family even in good circumstances and in a semi-understanding family. I guess I understand a little bit better the desire to be fully recognized and embraced in a hetero-centric mid-western environment and maybe how impossible that still is. So, I think the other reviewers should keep in mind that the book isn't a novel - it's a memoir. I think in a memoir one is not really looking for fancy prose but for insights into a person's life and innermost thoughts. If that's the case I think Anthony delivered the goods.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mary Chase Mize

    I'm trying to find the words for this one. First of all, I love RENT. RENT was a huge part of my coming-of-age, and every time I hear the guitar riffs of the opening number I'm immediately transported back to the early 2000s and my formative years. Also, I'd happily listen to Anthony Rapp read the alphabet for 9 hours straight. No joke -- I'd pay money to listen to him and Leslie Odom, Jr. read nutrition labels. But this memoir, my goodness. The vulnerability Rapp shares feels sacred. It's breat I'm trying to find the words for this one. First of all, I love RENT. RENT was a huge part of my coming-of-age, and every time I hear the guitar riffs of the opening number I'm immediately transported back to the early 2000s and my formative years. Also, I'd happily listen to Anthony Rapp read the alphabet for 9 hours straight. No joke -- I'd pay money to listen to him and Leslie Odom, Jr. read nutrition labels. But this memoir, my goodness. The vulnerability Rapp shares feels sacred. It's breathtaking. I'm not sure I've read a grief experience in a memoir as raw and authentic, and I feel so grateful for his generosity in sharing his pain and growth and life with us. It's a gift. Should I find myself teaching a death, dying & loss class in my career, this will certainly be on the syllabus.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Faith-Anne

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I loved the parts that mention Rent. I cried at the parts where his mother was dying, having lost my own father to cancer. I just didn't understand why there had to be almost explicit sex scenes...To me they just didn't fit into the book & detracted from it. I loved the parts that mention Rent. I cried at the parts where his mother was dying, having lost my own father to cancer. I just didn't understand why there had to be almost explicit sex scenes...To me they just didn't fit into the book & detracted from it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    The American Broadway Musical. In my opinion, it is THE only true art form. If anyone can attest to the veracity of that statement it would have to be me. I have seen more musicals in my life than most people I know, and more Original Casts on Broadway than I'd care to remember! But in all the thousands of hours I've spent in theatres in my life no other musical has had the power to touch me so profoundly as seeing the entire Original Broadway Cast of Rent in the summer of 1996, both in June and The American Broadway Musical. In my opinion, it is THE only true art form. If anyone can attest to the veracity of that statement it would have to be me. I have seen more musicals in my life than most people I know, and more Original Casts on Broadway than I'd care to remember! But in all the thousands of hours I've spent in theatres in my life no other musical has had the power to touch me so profoundly as seeing the entire Original Broadway Cast of Rent in the summer of 1996, both in June and August respectively. This was the second time for me reading Anthony's story. I was fortunate enough to meet him and other members of Rent's company after a few of the shows that first summer (I've since seen Rent a total of eighteen times since then in various locales across the country). When I first saw the show it was less than a year after my mother had lost her battle with cancer. Also, I was in the throes of my first real relationship with another man that summer. I guess you could say that all the elements were there to greatly affect me upon seeing it live for the first time. (Amazingly enough, I can still remember the first time that I saw Rent, it rained like hell that night and I was seated in the Orchestra level in seat M 104!) I think it's amazing reading this story now, with the remove of almost twenty years (!) since it opened on Broadway, winning thunderous acclaim and legions of screaming, devoted fans (the "Rentheads") - still proudly counting myself as one all these years later, mind you! I can remember vividly just how much this show meant to me (and continues to still impact me years later). I had just finished my Sophomore year in college when I first saw Rent. In essence, Rent had become my entire life that year and its creator Jonathan Larson became somewhat of a deity to me. Larson's unexpected death the night before Rent's January, 1996 Off-Broadway opening I believe surely added to my complete and utter fascination with me feeling that I was in essence truly a part of Broadway History being made. To this day, I consider being able to have seen Rent early in its original Broadway run one of my life's signature achievements! It is truly a moment (and time) that I will NEVER forget!!! ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN 2006.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Arant

    My advice to Anthony Rapp would be to stick to acting and not writing. Either that, or don't be ambiguous about the contents of what he is writing. This book should not have included "and the Musical Rent" in the title, because I honestly felt that he touched very little on the subject. I was under the impression upon going into this book that it would have been more focused on his time working with the show, especially since he was there since the start, and his experience through it all and NO My advice to Anthony Rapp would be to stick to acting and not writing. Either that, or don't be ambiguous about the contents of what he is writing. This book should not have included "and the Musical Rent" in the title, because I honestly felt that he touched very little on the subject. I was under the impression upon going into this book that it would have been more focused on his time working with the show, especially since he was there since the start, and his experience through it all and NOT a 300 page rant about his teenage sex life and how he felt his mother was never truly accepting of his sexuality. It started out strong, opening on his audition day for the role of Mark Cohen, and from there it went downhill. I almost felt that Rapp was trying to justify his lifestyle not to the readers, but to himself. The whole writing style was forced and insecure, and quite frankly a bit dramatic. I was let down. I feel that he could have written a better book if he had merely focused more on RENT and his mother's last few years and left out all unnecessary details of his many relationships from high school to present time. I would have been much more interested in hearing about all the behind the scenes work and stories from his time with the musical instead of all the time he met a cute guy and couldn't commit.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jillian

    Let me preface this review by saying that I absolutely love the musical Rent...and I've loved it for a long time. In fact, although I'm certainly not as hardcore as some Rentheads, I've even seen the musical three times. That being said, I found the actual writing of this memoir almost painful to digest...perhaps for the simple fact that Anthony Rapp is an actor, and a very talented one at that. But he's not a writer. And while I found his stories about how he became involved in Rent, his strugg Let me preface this review by saying that I absolutely love the musical Rent...and I've loved it for a long time. In fact, although I'm certainly not as hardcore as some Rentheads, I've even seen the musical three times. That being said, I found the actual writing of this memoir almost painful to digest...perhaps for the simple fact that Anthony Rapp is an actor, and a very talented one at that. But he's not a writer. And while I found his stories about how he became involved in Rent, his struggles/hurdles as a gay man, and his devastation at losing his mother incredibly interesting at heart, his prose was a bit too self-involved and self-indulgent. I mean, I guess a certain degree of that is just inherent in the memoir genre. My overall opinion: If you love Rent, this book is worth the read as it gives you lots of fun insights into how the musical was born, morphed, and became the phenomenon that it is today. But try not to have any expectations for the prose; it certainly won't knock you off your feet. And be warned, the dialogue gets pretty painful to read in places.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emily Ross

    I loved the parts of this book about Rent, but parts of the book that was about Rapp’s personal life, I really struggled to read. He is incredibly open and honest and it could be hard to read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tionne

    I read this book as I was losing my grandmother. It really hit home with a lot of the grief stages. Anthony Rapp is an amazing actor, singer, writer, but most importantly, an amazing all around human being. I'm very glad I picked up this book when I did. I read this book as I was losing my grandmother. It really hit home with a lot of the grief stages. Anthony Rapp is an amazing actor, singer, writer, but most importantly, an amazing all around human being. I'm very glad I picked up this book when I did.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Deyerle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Well, really this is a 3.5 for me. I found it compelling and quick to read, and yet was bugged both by some of the writing and by Rapp himself. I guess I picked up this book expecting it to be more about his life as a Rent cast member, and there is certainly some of that. I was gripped mainly by the story of his mother - and was really moved to tears many times. I was quite annoyed by the endless stories of his relationships, because somehow it seemed to me that each one was of the greatest impor Well, really this is a 3.5 for me. I found it compelling and quick to read, and yet was bugged both by some of the writing and by Rapp himself. I guess I picked up this book expecting it to be more about his life as a Rent cast member, and there is certainly some of that. I was gripped mainly by the story of his mother - and was really moved to tears many times. I was quite annoyed by the endless stories of his relationships, because somehow it seemed to me that each one was of the greatest importance - until it ended and he moved on to the next one which was so important. That may have bothered me less if he weren't clearly so co-dependent, and yet for someone supposedly so self-aware, he doesn't seem to realize that. I pretty much lost my patience with him when I learned that he stayed with Todd after what I found to be totally unacceptable behavior after his mother's death. I was already cheering for Anthony to get out of that relationship (and couldn't he find another great guy like the one his mom liked?), and yet it continued. For many years. And pretty much then I decided I coudln't really cheer for Rapp anymore, because I just couldn't understand him at all.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alex Black

    I adored this book, which probably isn't surprising considering I'm such a big fan of both Rent and Anthony Rapp. But even then, this book was better than I was expecting. It was so emotional and took me ages to read because I never felt ready for the heartbreak this book brought. I learned so much about Rent and so much about Anthony Rapp, and I can't remember the last time a book made me cry this much. I don't think there's enough in this book for people who aren't already fans of Anthony Rapp I adored this book, which probably isn't surprising considering I'm such a big fan of both Rent and Anthony Rapp. But even then, this book was better than I was expecting. It was so emotional and took me ages to read because I never felt ready for the heartbreak this book brought. I learned so much about Rent and so much about Anthony Rapp, and I can't remember the last time a book made me cry this much. I don't think there's enough in this book for people who aren't already fans of Anthony Rapp and/or Rent, but if you are a fan, I highly recommend picking this up.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This was raw and visceral and felt jarringly honest. Rapp discusses grief in such a compelling manner, and while the narrative begins and ends with Rent, this memoir is so much more personal than I expected (in a great way).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Indah

    3.5 stars

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    My Grade = 85% - B In the last year or so, I have collected a series of autobiographies by (fairly) young entertainers: two by Rob Lowe, and one each by Michael J. Fox, Tina Fey, John Barrowman, and Anthony Rapp (all, of course, from thrift stores). I donated the first four to my local library, but felt a connection to the other two, so I read them. Not only did I see John Barrowman perform on stage, but I watched him carry on at a Soho pub. I am also a great fan of him in Doctor Who, Torchwood, a My Grade = 85% - B In the last year or so, I have collected a series of autobiographies by (fairly) young entertainers: two by Rob Lowe, and one each by Michael J. Fox, Tina Fey, John Barrowman, and Anthony Rapp (all, of course, from thrift stores). I donated the first four to my local library, but felt a connection to the other two, so I read them. Not only did I see John Barrowman perform on stage, but I watched him carry on at a Soho pub. I am also a great fan of him in Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Arrow. Anthony Rapp, of course, is best known as creating the role of Mark Cohen in the Broadway and movie versions of Rent and also as Charlie Brown in the Broadway Revival of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown! When this book first came out, my local theatre invited him to talk about it and sign copies (and, naturally, to sell the book), so, once again, I felt a personal connection. I did not know until I read the book, that Mr. Rapp had been performing for years before Rent, most notably in Oliver, Adventures in Babysitting, and Dazed and Confused. The autobiography begins with Anthony's invitation to join a Theatre Workshop for the creation of Jonathan Larson's Rent, a modern retelling of LaBoheme. Mr. Larson, by the way, died on Preview Night. I was enthralled with the whole production, beginning with the workshop, its moving to Off-Broadway, then Broadway, and then the movie. I loved everything he told us about the show, the music, the other actors and musicians, and everything connected with the production(s) of Rent. And also his personal relationships. This book, however, was not just about Rent, but also about his relation with his (first) sick, then dying, and eventually dead mother. I know that this was very important to him, but it did not interest me in the least. I would have rather read about his interest in show business, his earlier plays and movies, and how all this came about. Some items are mentioned or alluded to, but that was it. Of course, the title of the book is "Without You, a Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent, so I guess that was his purpose, but as an audience member, I was just simply not interested.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I love Rent and I love Anthony Rapp. I just saw the show for the umpteenth time because he toured with Adam Pascal. I first saw the show in NYC, but the originals were already gone (1998). What a duo. I wish the entire original cast would regroup for a tour...I would pay big bucks to see them all, especially Idina, Adam, Mark, Jesse, and Taye. I enjoyed the insight into Rapp's life, but mostly enjoyed the morsels about the start of Rent and the evolution of the show. I think only true fans of Re I love Rent and I love Anthony Rapp. I just saw the show for the umpteenth time because he toured with Adam Pascal. I first saw the show in NYC, but the originals were already gone (1998). What a duo. I wish the entire original cast would regroup for a tour...I would pay big bucks to see them all, especially Idina, Adam, Mark, Jesse, and Taye. I enjoyed the insight into Rapp's life, but mostly enjoyed the morsels about the start of Rent and the evolution of the show. I think only true fans of Rent will enjoy this book - for others it will just be a basic memoir that someone else has probably done better. Anthony Rapp, if you ever log onto GoodReads (I know you are book obsessed too), and happen to read my review, do everything in your power to regroup the gang and tour. You were awesome with Adam! Rent changes lives! No day but today!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ariel

    Rent has been my favorite musical ever since I first watched it, and I was looking forward to reading this book. I had to stop reading it when my grandma passed away and the book hit too close to home, but now I've finally finished it and can safely say it's beautiful. It was lovely and bittersweet to read about the beginning of it all, Jonathan's death, the cast slowly leaving... And I loved reading about Anthony's feelings and his grief, and it made me realize how human life is beautiful, frag Rent has been my favorite musical ever since I first watched it, and I was looking forward to reading this book. I had to stop reading it when my grandma passed away and the book hit too close to home, but now I've finally finished it and can safely say it's beautiful. It was lovely and bittersweet to read about the beginning of it all, Jonathan's death, the cast slowly leaving... And I loved reading about Anthony's feelings and his grief, and it made me realize how human life is beautiful, fragile and extremely crazy. "I would always be grateful to Jonathan for having written such gorgeous songs, which continued to fulfill and reward and reveal themselves in the singing of them, all these years later." Me too.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nique

    I'm a total "RENThead" and this book has been on my list for YEARS but I finally decided to give it a go. I'm really glad I chose the audio version, because listening to Anthony Rapp tell his own story was fantastic! It was fun listening to his take on the audition and workshop processes for "RENT". What really hit home for me was his struggle to deal with his mother's illness. It's a real parallel of how I'm dealing with my mom's. People always tell the stories of the strong journeys, but don't I'm a total "RENThead" and this book has been on my list for YEARS but I finally decided to give it a go. I'm really glad I chose the audio version, because listening to Anthony Rapp tell his own story was fantastic! It was fun listening to his take on the audition and workshop processes for "RENT". What really hit home for me was his struggle to deal with his mother's illness. It's a real parallel of how I'm dealing with my mom's. People always tell the stories of the strong journeys, but don't always give insight to the avoidance or anger issues we experience while mourning someone who is still alive. It made me feel less alone in how I feel inside sometimes. I really appreciated that.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jordan B

    Considering how obsessed I was with Rent as a teenager, I can't believe I had never read this before. I can honestly say I was not prepared for how heartbreaking this book is. The success of Rent exploded for Anthony Rapp in the wake of the loss of it's creator Jonathan Larson and the drawn out death of his mother. His grief his palpable on the pages. He uses the music of the show to help convey those feelings throughout the book and it honestly wrecked my emotions. Worth a read for fans of the Considering how obsessed I was with Rent as a teenager, I can't believe I had never read this before. I can honestly say I was not prepared for how heartbreaking this book is. The success of Rent exploded for Anthony Rapp in the wake of the loss of it's creator Jonathan Larson and the drawn out death of his mother. His grief his palpable on the pages. He uses the music of the show to help convey those feelings throughout the book and it honestly wrecked my emotions. Worth a read for fans of the show.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    Anthony Rapp, may be a good actor, but he is a horrible writer. Wow. I only stuck with it, because I have this sick habit of finishing books that I have started. Sigh. I do want to resee the movie----or the show if it was not done.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ale

    although average in writing, I don't think I cried this much since I found out frat boys truly enjoy naty light although average in writing, I don't think I cried this much since I found out frat boys truly enjoy naty light

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dee

    It says a lot about an author’s writing when their story can pull a reader in, even when the reader might not have any reason to be invested in the story other than curiosity. Such is the power of Anthony Rapp’s candid and forthright book, Without You: A Memoir of Love, Lose and the Musical Rent. I have known of Anthony since I saw him in the movie Adventures in Babysitting when I was a teenager. In the 90s, I was active in an org called Friends of People with AIDS in my hometown, surrounded by It says a lot about an author’s writing when their story can pull a reader in, even when the reader might not have any reason to be invested in the story other than curiosity. Such is the power of Anthony Rapp’s candid and forthright book, Without You: A Memoir of Love, Lose and the Musical Rent. I have known of Anthony since I saw him in the movie Adventures in Babysitting when I was a teenager. In the 90s, I was active in an org called Friends of People with AIDS in my hometown, surrounded by members of the LGBTQ community, and it was impossible not to hear of Anthony and his performances in Rent or to feel everyone's pain when Jonathan Larson died, though I have never seen performances of Rent or much musical theater at all. But Anthony really came under my radar when he showed up as science officer Paul Stamets on Netflix/CBS All Access's Star Trek: Discovery. On the show, he plays the first openly queer character in Star Trek’s 52-year franchise. I realized quickly that Anthony’s character Stamets was my favorite in all the years of Star Trek that I have watched, both because of the dimensionality of his character and because Anthony performs every scene he is in with perfection, conveying countless emotions with just his tone, inflection, expressions, and brilliant blue eyes. As is my habit when I find someone whose skills I really admire, I researched Anthony to know more about him. I found he had an online presence and that he had written this book, Without You: A Memoir of Love, Lose and the Musical Rent. I decided to read this memoir for a few reasons, including the fact that online friends highly recommended the book. I also figured it was a good away to learn more about someone with whom I resonate but have limited chances of getting to know better outside social media. Anthony’s storytelling skills are as good as his acting and singing skills: He sets up the story, so you want to know more. He uses engaging and emotionally articulate language to help you immerse in the narrative. Most striking perhaps is his candor, which is at points self-deprecating, when describing his feelings, actions, and behaviors during what must have been the most difficult and yet most amazing time at that point in his life. But this honesty serves not only to further humanize the events Anthony is describing but also has the benefit of resonating deeply with readers who have faced similar events in their own lives: growing up trying to find independence, being given great responsibility under pressure, struggling to keep lovers and fulfilling relationships, or losing a loved one even when we know it’s coming because nothing in life can really prepare you for the death of someone who is dear. I will not say anything more about this book as that could hinder the reader’s experience. Suffice to say that once I started reading, I could not stop until the end, though pesky work responsibilities kept interfering. There are times when you will laugh (his description of midwestern culture and stoicism is spot on). There are times when you might be touched and nostalgic (he is candid also about coming of age as a queer teenager and his first sexual experiences). You will at times feel angry and frustrated for Anthony and maybe even at him (he is brutally honest about his relationships). You may find courage (his resolve to be out and open as a queer person is inspirational). You most certainly will cry. But in the end, you might be struck perhaps most profoundly by how life can go on, even after tremendous lose, and in that story, I think you will find great comfort.

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