In this age of over-the top movie premieres complete with entourages, clamoring paparazzi, and celebs reciting publicist-orchestrated sound bites, it's refreshing to stumble upon an opening characterized by honest, unabashed joy. ''I wish I could do justice with my words to the resounding things happening in my body tonight,'' says Rent star Anthony Rapp at the chilly Nov. 17 premiere of the musical at NYC's Ziegfeld Theatre. Adds costar Tracie Thoms: ''I'm so happy that I'm not cold.'' Some of the emotion, no doubt, stemmed from the decade-long struggle to get the film version of the Tony-award-winning play made and with most of the original cast. ''We never even thought this would happen,'' confirms Jesse L. Martin, who, like Rapp, reprises his stage role. ''Lightning struck twice.'' Director Chris Columbus agrees: ''These actors bonded in a way that I've never seen. Every night was a memorial to [Rent creator] Jonathan Larson. They shared an intense bond that you'd give anything to have.'' Here, their opening night to remember.
''We all know so much more about ourselves and the world around us and life than we did 10 years ago,'' says Diggs, who plays Benny the sellout. ''So I think we're better in the roles, to be honest.
''If the Broadway run had been it, I would have been thrilled. But to have it come around again?'' says Rapp. ''When I first saw the film I was so relieved because it could so easily have been something else.''