Stars taking part in the New York Theatre Workshop ‘Rent’ 25th anniversary gala

The 'Rent' gala will take place online on March 2.

Photo credit: Original Broadway Cast of Rent (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Broadway changed forever thanks to the arrival of Rent. Set in 1980s New York, the musical follows a group of impoverished artists living in Manhattan's East Village, living through the HIV/AIDS crisis. Since initial workshops at New York Theatre WorkshopRent made its New York premiere on Jan. 25, 1996, transferring to Broadway in April 1996 where it ran for 12 years. 

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Rent, New York Theatre Workshop will host a virtual gala brimming with stars. There'll be appearances from the original cast and creatives, as well as Broadway stars speaking about how the show inspired them. Here's a roundup of stars taking part in the Rent 25th anniversary gala.

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Rent stars taking part in the Rent 25th anniversary gala

Adam Chanler-Berat

In 2011, Adam Chanler-Berat joined the Rent club, playing Mark Cohen in the 2011 off-Broadway revival at New World Stages. Aside from Rent, Chanler-Berat has starred in Next to Normal, Amelie and Saint John.

Adam Pascal

Adam Pascal hasn’t just provided “one song glory” for audiences. Originating the role of Roger Davis, Pascal has reprised the role in the 2005 film adaptation and a Rent national tour.

Aiko Nakasone

Aiko Nakasone was part of the ensemble for the opening Broadway cast of Rent at the Nederlander Theatre. Nakasone also starred in the Broadway premiere of The Rocky Horror Show.

Annaleigh Ashford

Annaleigh Ashford played Maureen Johnson in the 2011 off-Broadway revival for six months, with Emma Hunton taking over the role. Aside from Rent, Ashford has starred in Kinky Boots and will make her West End debut in Sunday in the Park With George opposite Jake Gyllenhaal.

Anthony Rapp

Originating the role of Mark Cohen at New York Theatre Workshop, Anthony Rapp transferred with the show’s Broadway premiere, as well as the 2005 film adaptation and a Rent national tour. He starred alongside Rent alum Idina Menzel in If/Then at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

Brandon Victor Dixon

Although he played Tom Collins in the off-Broadway revival of Rent, Dixon’s recent Broadway credits include Hamilton, Motown: The Musical and Shuffle Along.

Byron Utley

Part of the original cast of Rent, Utley hasn’t returned to Broadway since. He was a part of the opening cast of Hair, Reggae and Big Deal.

Daphne Rubin-Vega

The Panamaian actress is best known for originating the role of Mimi Marquez in Rent's Broadway run. More recently, she’s played Fantine in the Broadway revival of Les Miserables.

Fredi Walker-Brown

Walker-Brown originated the role of Joanne in Rent on Broadway, but did not reprise her performance in the film. Rent marks Walker-Brown's only Broadway credit, but she has played Rafiki in a touring production of The Lion King.

Gilles Chiasson

Taking part in Rent workshops from 1994, Gilles Chiasson starred in the musical’s subsequent Broadway premiere.

Idina Menzel as Maureen in Rent 

Idina Menzel

Originating the role of Maureen in Rent, Idina Menzel appeared in the production for over a year. Now, she’s widely known for originating the role of Elphaba in Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre as well as providing the voice for Elsa in Frozen.

Jai Rodriguez

Previously one of the “fab five” in the 2000s series of Queer Eye, Jai Rodriguez played Angel in the Toronto production of Rent.

Jesse L. Martin

Martin is perhaps best known for playing Tom Collins both on Broadway and in the West End. More recently, he's starred in Shakespeare productions of The Winter's Tale and Romeo and Juliet.

Kristen Lee-Kelly

Lee-Kelly was in the original cast of Rent, later cast in The Rocky Horror Show.

Nicholas Christopher

Nicholas Christopher made his Rent debut a decade ago, playing Tom Collins in the 2011 off-Broadway revival. More recently, he’s starred in Miss Saigon and Lazarus at New York Theatre Workshop.

Rodney Hicks

Making his professional debut in Rent in 1994, he rejoined the cast 13 years later to play Benjamin Coffin III - the final actor to play this part.

Sebastian Arcelus

Arcelus made his Broadway debut in Rent, Sebastian Arcelus also covered the roles of Mark and Roger. He’s also been in Wicked and Jersey Boys, but hasn’t been on Broadway for over a decade.

Tamika Lawrence

Tamika Lawrence made her off-Broadway debut in the 2011 revival of Rent as the Seasons of Love Soloist. Since then, Lawrence has appeared in numerous Broadway productions including Come From Away.

Telly Leung

Playing an ensemble member in the final Rent run on Broadway, audiences can catch Telly Leung as the title role in Aladdin.

Tracie Thoms

Tracie Thoms gave a career-defining performances as Joanne in the Rent film adaptation, later joining the Broadway production. Recently, she’s appeared in the Broadway revival of Falsettos.

Wilson Cruz

Wilson Cruz made his Rent debut as Angel in the Broadway tour production. He also performed in Tick, Tick… BOOM! written by Rent creator Jonathan Larson.

Wilson Jermaine Heredia

Wilson Jermaine Heredia originated the role of Angel on Broadway, the West End and in the film adaptation.

Cast of 2011 off-Broadway revival of Rent (Photo by Sara Krulwich)

Rent creatives taking part in the Rent 25th anniversary gala

As well as original Broadway cast members of Rent, there’ll also be appearances from members of the creative team. Audiences can hear Michael Greif speak, whose Broadway directorial credits include Rent, Next to Normal and Dear Evan Hansen. He’ll be joined by original Rent resident director Martha Banta, artistic director James C. Nicola and choreographer Marlies Yearby. 

Scenic designer Paul Clay will also be a part of the gala, as well as costume designer Angela Wendt. There’ll also be appearances from musical supervisor Tim Weil, as well as producers Jeffrey Seller, Jennifer Ashley Tepper, Kevin McCollum and Tom Viola.

Broadway stars appearing in the Rent 25th anniversary gala

Generations of Broadway actors and creatives have been inspired by 25 years of Rent productions. Broadway stars taking part in the event include Ali Stroker, who won her first Tony Award for playing Ado Annie in Oklahoma! Dear Evan Hansen’s Ben Platt will also take part, as well as Billy Porter, Christopher Jackson, Ephraim Sykes and Eva Noblezada.

Best known for creating Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda will feature in the upcoming Rent gala. His career is closely tied to Rent creator Jonathan Larson, starring in the Broadway revival of Tick, Tick... Boom! and is currently directing the film adaptation. Neil Patrick Harris will also appear in the event, previously winning a Tony Award for starring in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

As well as Broadway actors, esteemed creatives will also lend their support to the event. Hadestown creator Anaïs Mitchell will take part. There’ll be appearances from Slave Play writer Jeremy O. Harris, director Ivo van Hove and Pulitzer Prize-finalist Dael Orlandersmith.

Musicians playing in the Rent 25th anniversary gala

Best known for writing the music and lyrics for Be More Chill, Joe Iconis will play music in the Rent 25th anniversary gala. Rona Siddiqui will also perform, after being a recipient of the 2020 Jonathan Larson Grant which invests in future talent. Musical groups The Bengsons and The Lazours will also provide musical entertainment.

Photo credit: Original Broadway Cast of Rent (Photo by Joan Marcus)