A moving, absorbing journal of life on stage and at home.
A young (early 30s) veteran of stage (Rent) and screen (Adventures in Babysitting; A Beautiful Mind; the upcoming film adaptation of Rent), Rapp here makes an impressive debut as a writer, bringing a keen actor’s sense of detail, timing and pathos to the page. He opens with vivid descriptions of auditions, workshops and early performances of the musical Rent, with which he had become involved as an actor soon after its inception. His production log gaining momentum, he shifts abruptly yet skillfully to home in Joliet, Ill., where doctors discover a malignant tumor growing on his mother’s adrenal gland. Narratives entwine as Rapp reveals how his mother’s heartbreaking demise, his work in a major musical hit and his turbulent relationships with four men eventually, if painfully, empower his acting and enrich his life. Rapp sharply brings to life a series of inherently dramatic moments. There are the tumultuous performances of Rent, especially the one given for the parents and friends of Rent’s composer Jonathan Larson after Larson dies on the eve of the show’s explosive success. There are accounts of romantic yet tortured personal relationships. But most notably, there is the story of Rapp’s relationship with his mother. Clearly, mother and son had forged a bond after the mother divorced and as her son found work as a young actor. Still, their relationship remained tendentious, especially over the issue of Rapp’s homosexuality. Flying home on days off from Rent, Rapp eventually establishes touching rapport with his gravely ill mother. Writing with painful sensitivity of a final, wrenching farewell as he confronts her lifeless body, he reaches a deep, affecting level of personal expression.