Ch. 4 – Newspaper articles about Larson

Following are newspaper articles about an untimely death and how this tragic story has affected those who knew Jonathan:

December 13, 1996

On the Eve of a New Life, an Untimely Death

– NY Times


Jonathan Larson, who created the hit rock opera ”Rent,” died as he was about to achieve success. Following is an account of the last days of his life and the first days of his production, assembled from the accounts of co-workers (in italic print) and from a New York State Department of Health case report released yesterday.

Sunday, Jan. 21, 1996

At the New York Theater Workshop between the Bowery and Second Avenue in the East Village, ”Rent” is in the final, frantic days of rehearsal before previews begin. In theater terminology, the period is ”10-out-of-12 days,” when the actors may be kept at work for 10 hours out of a maximum of 12. At the New York Theater Workshop, this is a day when lighting, sound, costumes, props, sets are being integrated into the production.

6:30 P.M.: Cast and crew return after a dinner break to continue rehearsing the second act. The song ”Seasons of Love” is being heard through the sound system for the first time. Jonathan Larson, who is seeing his musical — a contemporary American version of the Puccini opera ”La Boheme” — come to life seven years after it was conceived, is not feeling well and nearly collapses backstage.

6:45 P.M.: Mr. Larson is taken by ambulance to the Cabrini Medical Center emergency room at 227 East 19th Street. After eating dinner and reportedly smoking a small amount of marijuana, he had complained of severe chest pain, shortness of breath and dizziness. A friend remembers him saying, ”My chest is killing me.” Paramedics make a presumptive diagnosis: ”pleuritic chest pain,” pain worsened by breathing.

7 P.M.: An emergency room physician takes and reviews an electrocardiogram. A second emergency room physician examines Mr. Larson. In his notes, he says, ”no cardiac disease . . . just finished producing a play . . . increased stress.” X-rays are taken.

8 P.M.: Mr. Larson complains of dizziness and shortness of breath. A nurse’s notes report him saying, ”I can’t take a breath.” A friend asks the doctor about Mr. Larson’s condition and says he is told: ”I can’t find anything wrong. You’ll be out of here in one hour since I want to pump his stomach.” Mr. Larson is given pain medication. Food is drained from his stomach.

10:15 P.M.: Mr. Larson is given 50 grains of charcoal to absorb toxins. He is instructed to take a bland diet for 24 hours and told to return to the emergency room if necessary. He returns home.

Monday, Jan. 22

In the morning, a radiologist at Cabrini reviews the chest X-rays, which he says are accompanied by paperwork that lists ”pain” under a heading of clinical history. He finds the X-rays normal. Mr. Larson’s roommate says he continues to feel discomfort.

In the theater, Monday is traditionally a day off, but some of the technical staff is working on ”Rent.” Around the New York Theater Workshop, the feeling is that it is a good thing Mr. Larson can stay home and rest.

Early afternoon: James C. Nicola, the artistic director of the workshop, speaks to Mr. Larson by phone. Mr. Larson seems better.

Tuesday, Jan. 23

1 P.M.: Another 10-out-of-12 day. Technical rehearsals resume.

4 or 4:30 P.M.: In a phone conversation, Mr. Larson tells Mr. Nicola that doctors have told him he has a virus or a flu, and that he should stay home.

11 P.M. Rehearsals end.

About 11 P.M.: Mr. Larson is taken by a friend to the emergency room at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center, at Seventh Avenue and West 11th Street in Greenwich Village, after complaining of ”not feeling right,” a low-grade fever and chest pain. A triage nurse documents his chief complaint as ”right chest pain.”

The nurse notes that the patient describes the pain as possible heartburn and says he was seen at Cabrini for the same symptoms two nights earlier. The patient rates the severity of the pain at 7 on a scale of 10. The nurse classifies the case as urgent, but does not speak with a physician about the vital-sign readings.

Wednesday, Jan. 24

12:40 A.M.: Mr. Larson is seen by an emergency room physician. The physician notes that the patient complains of ”sharp inspiratory right-sided chest pain.” A chest X-ray and electrocardiogram are ordered. The physician interprets the chest X-rays and EKG as normal. Mr. Larson’s condition is diagnosed as viral syndrome and he is discharged in ”improved” condition.

During the cab ride home, Mr. Larson complains of pain and tightness in the chest. ”Nothing has changed,” he is reported to have said. He arrives home in the early morning hours. Later in the morning, a radiologist at St. Vincent’s interprets the X-rays as essentially normal. He reports: ”Heart size is at upper limit of normal.” He does not find any problem that requires a recall of the patient. A cardiologist reads the EKG and indicates a question of myocardial infarction, a heart attack. There is no evidence of any follow-up.

Mr. Larson tells his father he still has chest pain, pain in his lower back and low-grade fever.

7:30 P.M.: Mr. Larson, looking pale and exhausted, arrives at the theater.

8 P.M.: At the 150-seat theater, the curtain rises on the first complete performance ever of ”Rent.”

Midnight: In an interview with a New York Times reporter, he speaks of his need to respond in some way to his friends coping with AIDS and to celebrate the lives of people who have died young.

Thursday, Jan. 25

12:10 A.M.: His interview completed, Mr. Larson drops in on a production meeting at the theater.

12:30 A.M.: Looking pale and exhausted, Mr. Larson leaves the theater in a cab, planning to meet with Mr. Nicola and Michael Greif, the show’s director, at 9 A.M. at the Time Cafe at Lafayette and Third Streets.

After 12:30 A.M.: Mr. Larson arrives home.

1 or 1:30 A.M.: At the theater, the production meeting ends.

About 3:30 A.M.: Mr. Larson’s roommate arrives home. Mr. Larson is lying on the kitchen floor. He is unresponsive. 911 is called. Emergency Medical Service responds. Mr. Larson is declared dead. He is 35 years old. His body is removed later by the Medical Examiner’s office.

Noon: The first preview of ”Rent” is canceled after news of Mr. Larson’s death reaches the theater.

Friday, Jan. 26

An autopsy is performed. The cause of death is listed as ”aortic dissection due to cystic medial degeneration of unknown etiology” — a tear in the body’s main blood vessel. Toxicology results are negative for all substances.

8 p.m. The curtain rises on the first preview.

Tuesday, Feb. 13

”Rent” opens.

Wednesday, Feb. 14

Glowing reviews begin to appear. The six-week run sells out immediately. In the months to come, ”Rent” will move to Broadway. The show will win four Tony awards, including the prize for best musical, and Jonathan Larson will win the Pulitzer Prize for drama, posthumously.

Larson 35 years old when died


– NY Daily News

By JOE NICHOLSON and ANNE E. KORNBLUT – Friday, December 13th 1996, 2:01AM

The author of the hit musical “Rent” was twice misdiagnosed and sent home from hospitals to die, just days before he was about to unveil the work that brought him international acclaim, state health officials said yesterday.

As the main artery from his heart was about to burst, Jonathan Larson went to two of the city’s most prestigious hospitals with excruciating chest pains, dizziness and shortness of breath.

But doctors told him he had food poisoning or a viral syndrome and sent Larson, 35, home, where he died of an aortic aneurysm on his kitchen floor.

Larson’s health problems were “not correctly diagnosed and inappropriately treated” at Cabrini Medical Center and St. Vincent’s Medical Center, investigators said.

The hospitals were hit with unusual fines totaling $16,000 after the state’s four-month probe, and doctors at both hospitals were referred for investigation by the state’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct.

“Mr. Larson’s condition was misdiagnosed at both hospitals,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Barbara DeBuono said yesterday. “We do have concerns about the appropriateness and medical soundness of the treatment Mr. Larson received in their emergency rooms.”

An autopsy showed Larson had a tear of more than 12 inches in his aorta from an aneurysm, which caused his death Jan. 25 the night of the final rehearsal for “Rent.”

The musical, seven years in the making, went on to win the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for drama in the months following Larson’s death.

In the days before “Rent” debuted, however, when Larson was still an unknown artist living in a small West Village apartment, he began showing signs of heart trouble and visited the two hospitals charged in yesterday’s probe.

Cabrini Medical Center, the E. 19th St. hospital where Larson was taken by ambulance Jan. 21, has been slapped with a $10,000 fine.

Among its errors, state officials said, was sending Larson home with a diagnosis of food poisoning.

Cabrini also pumped his stomach and treated him with a painkiller, toradol a medicine inappropriate even for food poisoning that compounded the problems by camouflaging symptoms, state officials said.

And the radiologist who examined Larson’s X-rays the next day found nothing wrong, though some medical experts brought in by the state said they showed an enlarged heart and extended aorta more typical of someone twice Larson’s age.

The next day, Larson visited St. Vincent’s Medical Center, where doctors gave him another X-ray and an EKG, yet misdiagnosed him with a viral syndrome.

St. Vincent’s which released Larson in an “improved” condition the day before his death received a smaller fine of $6,000. The hospitals issued public statements yesterday denying any negligence and questioned the state report.

“A number of deficiencies exist between the department’s report and the medical facts in this case,” said a statement from St. Vincent’s Medical Center. “Our exhaustive review indicates that Mr. Larson’s evaluation at St. Vincent’s was medically thorough and appropriate.”

DeBuono conceded that diagnosing the aortic aneurysm “would pose a challenge to the best clinician,” particularly because of Larson’s young age and lack of history.

Larson’s sister, who with her family has filed a $250 million negligence lawsuit against both hospitals, was reported to be too distraught to comment yesterday.

“On the one hand, she is gratified that an independent investigation found that the hospital’s care was deficient,” said family attorney David Taback.

“But at the same time, she is saddened because it is further confirmation that her brother shouldn’t have died,” he said.

Larson’s parents were unavailable for comment.

The musical a modern version of “La Boheme” depicting life on the lower East Side played to sellout performances at the New York Theater Workshop before it moved to Broadway’s Nederlander Theater, where it won prestigious Tony and New York Drama Critics’ Circle awards.

Three months after Larson’s death, “Rent” won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize.


Jan. 21, 6:45 p.m.: Jonathan Larson develops chest pain, shortness of breath and dizziness after dinner. Goes to Cabrini Medical Center emergency room and tells friend, “My chest is killing me.”

Jan. 21, 10:15 p.m.: Doctors discharge Larson with probable food poisoning diagnosis after an EKG and X-rays. They pump his stomach, give him a painkiller and tell him to stick to a bland diet for 24 hours.

Jan. 22: Larson remains at home, telling roommate he feels discomfort.

Jan. 23: Larson complains of “not feeling right” because of chest pain and fever.

Jan. 23, 11 p.m.: Friend brings Larson to St. Vincent’s Medical Center emergency room, where his chest pain is rated 7 in severity on a scale of 10. Nurse lists case as urgent.

Jan. 24, 12:40 a.m.: Emergency room doctor examines Larson and performs chest X-ray and EKG. Diagnosed with viral syndrome and discharged in “improved” condition.

Jan. 24: Larson tells his father he has chest and lower back pain and a low-grade fever. Attends dress rehearsal for his show.

Jan. 25, 12:30 a.m: Arrives home from rehearsal.

Jan. 25, 3:30 a.m.: Roommate finds Larson dead on the kitchen floor.




On Anniversary of a Son’s Death, Contracts and Awards Are Small Comfort

– New york Times


Published: January 26, 1997


Allan Larson buries his grief in the stacks of paper towering precariously on his desk, in the pages of the book about his lost son that is to be published soon, in the fine print of the contract for the forthcoming film about his son’s life, and in the cards and letters from fans overwhelmed by his son’s creation, the hit musical ”Rent.”

And sometimes at night, in the hazy place between wakefulness and sleep, he finds himself believing that his son is still alive, that the telephone will ring and that Jonathan Larson, the curly-haired, ebullient playwright and composer, will be on the line, humming the riff of a newly penned song.

”I have my moments, when I still can’t believe, because it shouldn’t be,” said Mr. Larson in an interview yesterday, on the one-year anniversary of his son’s death.

”But you wake up and it’s the same nightmare,” said Mr. Larson, who flew to New York from New Mexico with his wife, Nanette, to spend the day with the cast of the musical. ”This year has been a roller-coaster ride from hell, and it continues to this day.”

Jonathan Larson, 35, was found dead on Jan. 25, 1996, one day before his rock opera began previews at the New York Theater Workshop in the East Village. And in the year since his death, he has been showered with the accolades he had always dreamed of.

He won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, posthumously. His show garnered four Tony Awards, including the prize for best musical. And he became beloved by the hundreds of theatergoers who sit and sleep outside the theater to buy tickets to ”Rent,” which has moved to Broadway and is often sold out.

His death, untimely and unanticipated, was all the more painful because it did not have to happen. Twice during the last week of his life, the young playwright was rushed to Manhattan emergency rooms complaining of chest pains. Twice, doctors failed to diagnose the potentially treatable ailment that killed him, the New York State Health Department determined.

In December, the department imposed a $10,000 fine on Cabrini Medical Center, where doctors said Mr. Larson was suffering from food poisoning. It imposed a $6,000 fine on St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center, where doctors said he had a virus.

In fact, Mr. Larson suffered from a tear more than a foot long in his aorta, the main artery carrying blood from the heart to other organs. Lawyers representing his estate have filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospitals, which have maintained that they offered Mr. Larson adequate care.

Last night, about 100 friends and relatives commemorated his death. Gathered on the stage of the Nederlander Theater, where the show is performed, they sang the anthem, ”Seasons of Love.”

The actors in ”Rent,” a contemporary American version of the Puccini opera ”La Boheme,” have had to get used to working without him. But some say they still feel his presence.

”Every time there’s an empty seat in the theater, we like to think that Jonathan’s there,” said Anthony Rapp, the actor who plays the character Mark.

”Most people, when they’re gone, it’s hard to find ways to make them present,” he said. ”But we’re with Jonathan every day, through his music and his words and the world he created.”

It has been more difficult for his family. Overwhelmed by her grief, his older sister, Julie Larson McCollum, quit her job as a producer of commercials in April. His mother, Nanette, still cannot bear to read the many articles written about her son. And his father, a 71-year-old retired direct marketer, often finds himself bursting into tears at odd moments.

”I was never a crier, but now I find I can be sent into paroxysms of tears,” said the elder Mr. Larson, his eyes watering as he sipped a cup of coffee in a diner yesterday. ”But there’s so much to do now in connection with this thing that Jonathan has become. And I’m busier than I ever was, reading manuscripts, reading contracts, making phone calls. That helps.”

There is that book in the works and the possible movie deal with the director Martin Scorsese, and the Library of Congress wants to catalogue his son’s compositions, Mr. Larson said.

The family has also created the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation to keep struggling artists working.

Yesterday, before the stage gathering, the actors shared their memories of the young playwright, who grew up in White Plains pounding on the family piano.

”His big eyes, his smile, his laugh, his big ears, his curly hair, the way he always looked like he was up to some mischief, that’s what I remember,” said Daphne Rubin-Vega, who plays the role of Mimi in the musical.

”A year ago today, we just sat there on the stage, huddled together,” she said. ”We spoke. We cried. And today we want to be together.”

Mr. Larson’s father, who scattered some of his son’s ashes on Broadway, said he could think of no better place to spend the day than with the actors.

”You want to be with family,” he said. ”They’re family now.”

News Releases Archive


From Associated Press, January 30, 2001 by Joe Stange

The disorder killed a celebrated playwright and possibly afflicted Abraham Lincoln. But advocates say it’s not easy to get doctors to pay proper attention to Marfan syndrome – partly because the disorder is so hard to spot.

Involved in the efforts to get emergency rooms to take note are a St. Louis doctor who personally felt the impact when the disorder went undiagnosed, and a father whose playwright son gained world fame only after Marfan took his life.

The physical traits of someone with Marfan syndrome are quite common, making it more difficult for doctors to recognize. Those affected are often tall, loose-jointed, with an unusually lanky frame. Nearsightedness or other eye problems also are common.

The genetic disorder affects connective tissue, the basic substance that holds together blood vessels, heart valves, cartilage, tendons and other structures.

In many cases, the aorta, the heart’s main artery, gradually becomes enlarged, with thinner walls, until it eventually tears or ruptures. If those cases are not discovered in time, the consequences are fatal.

In Jonathan Larson’s case, it took an autopsy to find the problem.

It was about five years ago that tragedy disrupted Allen Larson’s quiet retirement in New Mexico. On a Saturday night in January 1996, Larson’s son, Jonathan, was in New York overseeing rehearsals for “Rent” – the musical he had written after 10 years of waiting tables – when he was struck by severe chest pains.

Larson was rushed to a New York City emergency room, where doctors diagnosed him with food poisoning and sent him home. Two days later, still suffering from chest pains, Larson was taken to another emergency room. He was again sent home after doctors said he had the flu.

Hours later, at 35, Jonathan Larson was dead. His dreams of fame on Broadway were fulfilled only after life; “Rent” garnered four Tony awards and a Pulitzer prize.

If doctors had investigated his chest pains further, his family contends, Larson might still be writing today. An autopsy revealed that Larson died of a ruptured aorta caused by Marfan syndrome.

Allen Larson, 75, said it’s difficult to know how many other people have died because of misdiagnosis – but he’s heard from some of their families, who sometimes call him to share their stories.

“The reality is, in the case of chest pains like Jonathan’s, in 48 hours half the people who suffer those will be dead,” Larson said. “So it’s critical that they get immediate attention.”

In St. Louis,Dr. Alan Braverman has heard stories like Larson’s on many occasions. His own family’s story is not so different. Marfan took the life of Braverman’s father at age 47, though at the time the family knew only that his heart valve had ruptured.

Soon after, when Braverman was in medical school, he heard a heart murmur while examining his brother. That led to a diagnosis of Marfan syndrome, which the family and doctors soon realized was what killed his father. Braverman’s brother, at 41 and after two heart surgeries, survives because he was diagnosed.

Braverman, 40, would rather talk about the symptoms of the disorder than the events that fuel his mission to make the public more aware of it. “It’s personal,” he said. “Very personal. But I think that’s extremely helpful when I talk to people and families about Marfan syndrome.”

These days, Braverman squeezes in “15 hours of work into 12-hour days” as a physician and researcher at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He heads the Marfan Syndrome Clinic at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and has become one of the country’s leading authorities on the condition.

Both Braverman and Larson are working for a campaign by the National Marfan Foundation to bring more public attention to the disorder. Their biggest task is to educate emergency rooms on how to spot the syndrome, which can be difficult to diagnose.

Larson is paying for the production of videos that doctors will use for continuing medical education, required for most physicians to keep their licenses. The money is coming from wrongful death lawsuits the Larsons won against the two hospitals that misdiagnosed Jonathan.

The New York-based National Marfan Foundation, of which Braverman is a board member, estimates that more than 200,000 people in the United States are affected by Marfan or similar connective tissue disorders. The foundation said that tens of thousands likely go undiagnosed.

Braverman’s clinic in St. Louis each year attracts about 100 patients who have or suspect they have the syndrome. Also, he and the clinic keep tabs on about 75 patients they know to have Marfan.

Nationally, about one person in 5,000 has the syndrome, Braverman said. If it’s diagnosed, and the person’s aortic valves are watched and replaced when needed, a Marfan patient can live well into their 70s, he said.

Many afflicted by Marfan never know until, like Jonathan Larson and Braverman’s father, they take a trip to the emergency room.

In those cases, “about 85 percent survive if they have emergency surgery,” Braverman said. “If it’s unrecognized, it’s uniformly fatal.”

“Thank you, Jonathan Larson”

JONATHAN LARSON (Book, Music, Lyrics) received the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Rent. Rent received four 1996 Tony  Awards (including Best Musical and two to Mr. Larson-Best Book of a Musical and Best Score of a Musical); six drama Desk  Awards (including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Music and Best Lyrics); Best Musical Awards from the New York Drama Critics Circle and the Outer Critics Circle (Off-Broadway); and three Obie Awards (including Outstanding Book, Music and Lyrics). Previously, he received the Richard Rodgers Production Award, the Richard Rodgers Development Grant, the Stephen Sondheim Award and the Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla Theatre Foundation’s Commendation Award.

Earlier work includes Superbia; tick, tick…BOOM!; the music for J.P. Morgan Saves the Nation; and and numerous individual numbers. He also wrote music for “Sesame Street” and the children’s book-cassettes An American Tail and Land Before Time as well as for Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner. He conceived and directed a children’s video, Away We Go!, for which he wrote four songs. Rent had its world premiere on February 13, 1996 at New York Theatre Workshop and opened at Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre on April 29, 1996. Mr. Larson died unexpectedly of an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm, believed to have been caused by Marfan Syndrome, on  January 25, 1996. It was ten days before his 36th birthday.

The rock opera’s opening night ended with no applause at the New York Theatre Workshop on Jan. 26, 1996.

Near-infinite silence engulfed the theatre. The audience sat in silence. The cast sat in silence. The crew sat in silence. The band sat in silence. An unidentified voice sliced the silence, “Thank you, Jonathan Larson.” Rewind: The night was Jan. 25, 1996, the night of Rent’s final, off-Broadway dress rehearsal, composer Jonathan Larson went to

his So-Ho apartment and made some tea. Larson had been complaining of chest pains that day, and went to two hospitals who told him that it was either stress or the flu.  While making his tea, he fell to the floor and died of an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm caused by Marfan Syndrome. It was ten days before his 36th birthday. “It took my brother fifteen years of really hard work to become an overnight sensation,” said Larson’s sister, Julie Larson McCollum in the book RENT by Jonathan Larson. The idea of Rent began in 1988 when playwright Bill Aronson wanted to modernize Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème, an opera written in 1896. A year later, Aronson agreed to take Larson along for the challenge to score his piece. Larson came up with the title Rent, but the two had differences on how the story should be written and could not resolve them.  In 1991, Larson asked Aronson if he could make Rent his own musical. Aronson agreed, and they made a mutual agreement that if the show went to Broadway they would share the proceeds.

Rent consumed Larson the rest of his life. Rather than strictly modernizing Puccini’s piece, Larson also wanted to focus on the book that La Bohème was based on, Scènes de la vie de Bohème by Henri Murger. Hours a day, Larson would sit at his keyboard and write songs. He wanted to “merge the tradition of the musical theatre with the 1990s music and the sensibility of young people raised with MTV, film technology, and rapidly changing social values.”

Larson sought to make the 90s generation of the 60s musical Hair, a musical about living life care-free, shedding the past, and coping with the dawning of a new age, with a potpourri of musical genres. Living in an apartment no bigger than a large closet, where the shower was in the kitchen, Larson supported himself as a waiter at the Moondance Diner. He would work on the weekends and make enough tips and money so he could put every piece of himself into his musical. “He hated it,” said friend Eddie Rosenstein of Larson’s job as a waiter. “He didn’t want to [be a waiter], and he was thrilled when [a musical opportunity] came up and he could take a hiatus.” While writing and composing Rent, Larson dabbled in other musical projects including, what started as a one-man show entitled Boho Days, but became a tri-cast show, and off-Broadway musical re-entitled tick, tick…BOOM!, which was produced in 2001, six years after his death. Larson worked on songs for TV shows such as Sesame Street and a few cabarets. He also had his own show in the early 80s for children called Away We Go! Finally, Larson’s musical Rent was to be produced at a workshop in New York called the New York Theatre Workshop in 1993. Larson was ecstatic, he could finally get out of the diner. He sent his dad, Al Larson, a note: “Dear Dad, I quit work. Love, Jon.” “Rent started as a staged reading […] followed by a studio production that played a three- week run a year later,” according to http://www.wikipedia. org. Some days during rehearsal, Larson and Rent’s director, Michael Grief, would have disputes about what was and wasn’t working in the show, wheter it was song or story related. Grief would threaten to walk away from the project, but Larson would not let him.  “You can’t do this to me, this is my baby!”  Larson would cry with a furrowed brow. He’d storm home, and the next day he would have a new song written. Larson’s musical is not just about living in the moment, it’s about coping with life and persuing dreams for life satisfaction, much like Larson did himself. He truly changed the musical theatre. “I never listened to musicals before Rent,” said Kris Fossett, 20, a journalism and theatre major at DCCC. “[Rent] showed me that musicals aren’t boring.” Larson’s musical was “awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Score of a Musical, the Drama Desks for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Lyrics the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical in the Off- Broadway category, and three Obie Awards for Outstanding Book, Outstanding Lyrics and Outstanding Music” all in 1996, according to Larson McCollum accepted her younger brother’s Tony award for Best Musical in 1996. “My brother Jonathan loved musical theater. He dreamed of creating a youthful, passionate, pertinent piece that would bring a new generation to the theater, so they would find as much joy in it as he did. That became Rent. Thank you all for embracing Rent, and with it, my brother, Jonathan.” Thank you, Jonathan Larson. Contact Shane R. Toogood at Please write “Shane R. Toogood” in the subject box. Some information was provided by the World Wide Web, the feature-length documentary “No Day But Today,” and the books The Creative Spirit by Stephanie Arnold, and RENT by Jonathan Larson Interviews and Text by Evelyn McDonnell with Katherine