Andy Seor Jr.
, like Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp
, has experienced firsthand the power of "Rent
The Miami-born actor and filmmaker joined the Broadway
cast of the rock
musical in 1997 as drag queen percussionist Angel, replacing Wilson Jermaine Heredia, who originated the role; seventeen years later, he directed the show in Cuba
, making it the communist island nation's first production of a Broadway musical in 50 years.
The latter experience is chronicled by Seor in a new HBO documentary
, "Revolution Rent," which premiered Wednesday and is co-directed by Victor Patrick Alvarez. The film goes behind the scenes with Seor as he travels to Havana to stage the show with a cast of local actors
. It's also a personal milestone, allowing Seor, the son of Cuban exiles, to explore his own complex relationship with his father.
“I wanted to share my experience with my family, as well as my experience in going to Cuba, in the hopes that it will provide some clarity or inspire other Cuban Americans to learn more about their heritage,” he told Stardia in an interview
View the trailer
for "Revolution Rent" below.
When “Rent” debuted on Broadway in 1996, it shattered the musical theater
status quo. Composer Jonathan Larson gave Puccini’s opera “La Bohème” a provocative update by moving
the action to New York City
and setting it against the backdrop of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Longtime “Rent” fans
will appreciate much of the archival footage seen in “Revolution Rent,” which shows actors Menzel and Rapp at work
on what would become their star-making performances. As for the Cuban cast in Seor’s production, several actors have personal experiences that influence their interpretation of the characters onstage. For example, one actor learns he has tested positive for HIV during the course of the production.
Despite financial and logistical challenges, Seor remained committed to getting his "Rent" cast to opening night, saying that his tenacity is a testament to the enduring strength of Larson's words and music 25 years later.
“When I hear the first chords of ‘Seasons of Love’ or ‘Halloween,’ it goes directly into my heart and soul,” he said. “Jonathan put so much of his love and his pain inside those melodies and lyrics. For me, they’re timeless. It really never gets old.”
Though Alvarez and Seor had no intention of releasing “Revolution Rent” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic
, they hope the film’s core themes will resonate with viewers of all ages who have been unable to attend a Broadway show for 13 months and counting.
And, seven years after his "Rent" experience, Seor said he's excited to return to Cuba to direct another musical, but this time with a very different type of production in mind.
“Ideally, I’d like to create a show with a Cuban story and Cuban music, rather than bringing in an American import,” he said, adding that he would like to use his experience on Broadway musicals
to create his own story in Havana.
The film "Revolution Rent" is now available to watch
on HBO and HBO Max