The Original Cast Of 'Rent' Included Lots Of Familiar Faces
The hit rock musical Rent premiered on Broadway almost 25 years ago in 1996. Right away the show was a smash hit with audiences, and that was in no small part thanks to the talent of its dynamic cast. The original cast of Rent was super young when the show first opened, so they had time for their careers to blow up in the years after Rent. You'll be sure to recognize some of the familiar faces from the original cast, since they moved on to all different kinds of projects after leaving Rent.
Rent tells the story of a bunch of 20-something struggling artists living in the East Village of New York City in the late 1980s. Like their characters, the actors were also just beginning their careers at the beginning of their adult lives. But, unlike their characters, we can see where the actors ended up over 20 years later.
The original cast of Rent went from the stage to starring roles on screens, both big and small. Most notably, perhaps, is that most of the original cast appeared in their original roles in the feature film adaptation of Rent in 2005. But, even if you've never seen any iteration of Rent over the years, you're still likely to recognize at least one member of the original cast. From Disney animated movies to serious network dramas, the original cast of Rent has done it all. Read on to see how many you recognize.
Menzel starred in Rent as the over-the-top performance artist Maureen, and she didn't stray too far from the stage directly following Rent. She famously won a Tony for originating the role of Elphaba in Wicked — and recently appeared on TV alongside Ariana Grande in honor of Wicked's 15th anniversary. But, the green girl isn't Menzel's only iconic role. Disney fans around the globe would recognize Menzel's voice as Elsa's in the little chart-topping song "Let it Go," from 2013's Frozen. It's nice to know that Menzel's incomparable pipes have only gained even more fans since she last belted in Rent.
Diggs played Benny, the businessman who's moved on from the bohemian lifestyle in order to earn more money. Rent was not only a major tipping point for Diggs' career, but one for his personal life as well: He and Menzel met while performing in Rent together, were married from 2003 to 2014, and have a son together.
Around the same time he was in Rent, Diggs made his big screen debut in How Stella Got Her Groove Back. After that, he starred in The Best Man Holiday and was a recurring character on the Grey's Anatomy spinoff Private Practice.
Jesse L. Martin
Martin won over Rent-heads as the soulful NYU professor Tom Collins, and he's continued to win over TV fans ever since. Martin has starred in more than 200 episodes of Law & Order and its spinoff series, so at this point the Law & Order "dun-dun" practically automatically plays whenever he walks in a room. Most recently, Martin can be seen as Detective Joe West on The Flash.
Rapp made a name for himself as Rent's pseudo-narrator Mark, but by that point he had already had a successful career as a child actor in movies like Adventures in Babysitting and Dazed and Confused. After Rent, Rapp continued to shine on screen in movies such as A Beautiful Mind and TV series, including 13 Reasons Why. Now he's making a name for himself on other planets in a recurring role on Star Trek: Discovery.
Pascal was Rent's original heartthrob rocker Roger, and it turns out he's still jamming out on his guitar. In addition to several Broadway roles in shows like Aida, Cabaret, and Chicago, Pascal has released several albums of original music and appeared in School of Rock.
Rubin-Vega starred on Broadway as the original Mimi and although she wasn't part of the 2005 film adaptation of Rent, she's been pretty busy in a number of other roles. Most notably, she had a cameo role in the Sex and the City movie, and is currently part of a new musical called Miss You Like Hell.
Wilson Jermaine Heredia
Heredia won a Tony Award for his performance as drag queen Angel in the original production of Rent, and since then he's starred in a bunch of indie projects. You might also recognize him from guest spots on Blindspot, Without a Trace, and Medium.
Walker played high-powered attorney Joanne in Rent, but she also didn't reprise her role in the film. Since Rent though, she's been busy founding her own production company called Big Spoon Productions and recurring on The C Word.