QLife Interviews Jennifer Tepper

The Jonathan Larson Project

by Russ White
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Over 22 years ago, Jonathan Larson changed Broadway forever. His most popular work, Rent, opened on Broadway in April 1992, but Larson died unexpectedly the morning of Rent's first preview performance Off-Broadway three months earlier. Rent created breakout stars, Anthony Rapp (Star Trek Discovery), Idina Menzel (Wicked, Frozen), Jesse Martin (The Flash), and Taye Diggs (Private Practice).

Before composing and writing the musical Rent, his most popular work, Jonathan Larson wrote a variety of early theatrical pieces, with varying degrees of success and production. This Fall, Feinstein's/54 Below, Broadway's Supper Club will presents "The Jonathan Larson Project." Jonathan Larson wrote Rent and tick tick BOOM, the former a landmark Broadway game-changer and the latter a beloved musical gem.

QLife met with Feinstein's/54 Below Creative and Programming Director Jennifer Ashley Tepper who has curated the music for the show, who has spent over 200 hours researching Larson's work through the collection at the Library of Congress, the floppy discs at the New York Public Library, personal interviews, and more.

Larson was a brilliant, groundbreaking creator of musical theatre who died tragically at the age of 35, before seeing the worldwide acclaim his work would receive and we are thankful to Tupper for her passionate work in bringing his unheard works to life.

Jonathan was posthumously awarded Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, and his songs have come to be treasured and performed in 25 languages, from Mexico to Japan to Italy, from summer camps to the silver screen to Broadway. But what about all of Jonathan's songs we've never heard?  "The Jonathan Larson Project" is an evening of Jonathan's unheard work featuring songs from never-produced shows like 1984 and Superbia; songs that were cut from Rent and tick tick BOOM; songs written for theatrical revues and songs written for the radio; songs about politics and love and New York City; songs never before publicly performed or recorded.

The evening features Nick Blaemire (tick tick BOOM, Found, Godspell), Lauren Marcus (Be More Chill, Beatsville, Company), Andy Mientus (NBC's Smash, Spring Awakening, Les Miserables), Destinee Rea (Amélie, Dreamgirls, The Wiz), George Salazar (Be More Chill, The Lightning Thief, tick tick BOOM), and a few special guests to be announced, backed by a five-piece band under the musical direction of Charlie Rosen (Prince of Broadway, Honeymoon in Vegas, Charlie Rosen's Broadway Big Band), who will also provide original orchestrations.

The Jonathan Larson Project thanks The Larson Family, Jonathan Mills, The New York Public Library, and The Library of Congress for their support of this event.

Feinstein's/54 Below presents "The Jonathan Larson Project" October 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 at 7PM and 9:30PM. There is a $60 cover charge for 7PM performances, $50 cover for 9:30PM performances, and a $25 food and beverage minimum. Premium seating is available for $80-100. For reservations and information, visit www.54Below.com/Feinsteins. 

In the spirit of Rent, which offered groundbreaking $20 rush tickets, Feinstein's/54 Below will make a limited number of $20 tickets available for each performance via a special lottery. (Details will be announced a later date)