Monday Chitchat: Rent Live on Fox + Thoughts on Writing and Researching True Crime

2:01 PM

I feel like this first month of 2019 has just gone by in a blur. I mean? Yesterday was suddenly a week ago. Another week gone. Only a few more days until February. Wasn't Halloween hours ago? Daang. But "Happy" Monday, everyone! It's time to chitchat and wrap up last week.

This past week was pretty busy for me, both online and in my life offline! I feel like I did pretty good in tossing out some content/entries for a change. Not quite as much as I wanted to, but definitely one of the more consistent weeks in January.

Here's what you might have missed this week:

Last night was the airing of Rent Live on Fox. I am a massive fan of Rent and of Jonathan Larson's compositions in general. Rent and Tick, Tick... BOOM! are two of my all-time favourite musicals. When I say they shaped me into who I am, I'm not exaggerating.

They were the first musicals I genuinely loved and what got me into musical theatre to begin with. I have such a profound attachment to these shows and I always will. Jonathan Larson's work shaped me in ways that you can't even imagine, unless something else has done so for you, and he is the reason I write music.

Years back, when Rent ended its Broadway run (how has it been 11 years?!), and the released the final performance on DVD, I remember sitting in my room and absorbing the performance. At the time, I'd watch and watch and watch it, sometimes multiple times in a row. It is rare for me to find something that I want to rewatch multiple times, without getting sick of it, but Rent is always going to be my happy place.

This is just a little moment for me to say that I appreciate Rent. Now, even more than ever. I wasn't all that nervous about this production of the show, even though I loathed Vanessa Hudgens as Mimi back during the Hollywood Bowl production. The reason? She wasn't suited for Mimi. Not vocally.

But, I knew she'd be great as Maureen, her role in Fox's production of it, because she has the same energy as the character. I actually wasn't a huge fan of Vanessa's until a few years ago. I've never seen High School Musical (I know) and just wasn't familiar with her beyond Disney Channel.

When I saw a performance of her in Gigi, I became a fan, and that only grew after she was in Grease! Live on Fox. Unsurprisingly, she was one of the standouts in the newest production of Rent and I am in awe over how much she has grown in her career both as an actress and a singer. I'm ecstatic that I was right: Vanessa literally became Maureen and her rendition of Over the Moon had me in tears of laughter.

I really enjoyed last nights production, in spite of its flaws. There were some rough patches. And I knew there was going to be some heavy editing at times to make it fit on the network, and I wasn't all that keen on some of them.

Here's some highlights:

  • The entire cast actually blew me away. I think my favourites were... HA-HA-HA, the entire main cast. I mean, they actually killed it. And Brennin Hunt made my list of my Top 5 Rogers. 
  • Will I? was so beautiful and haunting. The performance was beyond incredible. Those harmonies. The set-up of the scene. The camera just going from stage to stage, tying into the harmonies. I had chills. I think it was the highlight of the night because it was just... perfect in capturing what the song meant to each of the characters and really set a standard for the entire night. 
  • Tinashe was THE PERFECT CHOICE to play Mimi. I didn't doubt it. Even still, she blew my expectations straight out the window. 
  • The inclusion of those Jonathan Larson quotes (including my favourite, from one of his final interviews) made me cry. No joke. I mean, the musical always makes me cry, but. I just thought it was really well done and all the little tributes to him really, really made me emotional.
  • That moment when the original Broadway cast took the stage. I was NOT OKAY. I mean, I was OKAY. But, not okay. It was beautiful. I am glad that they included them in something because that cast went through so much in the original production and were able to reprise their roles in the film adaptation and, ugh, they are Rent
  • Sets and costumes. I LOVED it. I liked the changes and the similarities. It was the Rent I've always known, the Rent it will always be, and something new all at once. Plus, that scene where the showed the original Mark sweater was hilarious and sweet.
Basically... I am so happy right now? Nothing makes me feel like this show and I'm forever grateful for it. Rent lives on. I've always wanted to do a post dedicated to the show but can never bring myself to because it means the world to me and it's SO difficult expressing that?

For those of you who don't know me, or are new to my blog, I started the (at times) tedious journey of writing a true crime novel early last year. The book is based upon the murder of my aunt, who was the victim of a serial killer in the autumn of 1990. I'm still in the early-ish stages of writing it, because finding all the information has proved to be difficult, and am aiming to have a blog up in the next year.

I will say that one of the hardest parts is researching the crime, and the days that followed, and of course stomaching all of the details that I can find. Given that it happened in 1990, a lot of people that were on the case are either (a) no longer around or (b) not on the job any more. While I didn't have the opportunity to know my aunt (I was born around four months after her murder) I'm in this state of mourning someone I never got to know.

I'm not especially close with that side of the family, either, which makes researching the aftermath and court proceedings very difficult. What I've gathered is primarily from research via newspaper articles and my parents. It's not an easy topic to approach, of course, and my dad has had a rough series of events the last few months after losing his job of two decades.

So, I've had to take a bit of a step back and give them a break in my questions.

What I've learned so far
  1. Police incompetence was really on high throughout the entire investigation. I'll give you a brief summary of my reasoning in saying this. The police did not tape off the crime scene until almost twenty-four hours after my aunt was killed. My aunt was shot at her place of work, which was a gas station. They also really failed at accurately releasing a composite sketch of the killer, and botched up their own credibility in that regard. My aunt's co-worker witnessed the crime, had to play dead to avoid being killed herself, and told the cops that the killer was a man with stringy hair and olive skin. The sketch they released... described a white man. The men that were arrested? Black. I'll let that sink in. Another issue on their part was searching the suspects home, and car, without a warrant... and this made everything they found that could've been used to prosecute the accused not allowed in court. I could really go on and on in their failures--but I have to save some of that for what I'm writing.
  2. My aunt's likely killer and my aunt had a strange common note in their lives. Shortly before my aunt was killed, she had a miscarriage. Apparently the killer, too, lost a child at some point prior to the events. This isn't wholly relevant to the story at hand, but it's an odd coincidence. And not, at the same time. It feels almost like a note I'm using to humanize him, but I'm not. It is just an odd coincidence to me and for some reason I can't shake it?
  3. Those who fall victim are often reduced to headlines. I am not allowing this to happen to my aunt or the other victims. Including the three that survived him.
  4. The accused killer is in jail for the murders that followed my aunts, but was acquitted when it came to her death. He has changed his name, "found religion", and maintains his innocence. I have mixed feelings about him and his accomplice (and whether or not he did it, or his accomplice did it) that I don't really want to go into, but he has given multiple interviews from jail that I have yet to listen to in full. 
That... basically sums it all up? Or, rather, is the cliff-notes version of it all. I just wanted to give a little update on that project, as I've spoken about it before.

I had actually planned to add a little more to this post but I've run out of time. It's been a busy day and it's only just started. I do ask that you guys keep my best-friend in your thoughts because she has just had the awful experience of having her cat pass away and it was very sudden.

On a more positive note... have a good week, everyone!

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