'The Jonathan Larson Project': A Tribute For An Artist Gone Too Soon

'The Jonathan Larson Project': A Tribute For An Artist Gone Too Soon

No day but today.

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I first listened to Jonathan Larson's magnum opus piece, "Rent," when I was fourteen years old. I was a mini-Broadway fan at the time, slowly discovering musicals that I knew meant a lot to other fans. As someone who had only previously listened to strictly rock musicals or the standard musical theatre style, "Rent" was a show that had blended both genres. When I finally finished listening to the show, I was hungry for more. I turned to the internet looking for more shows from this composer, Jonathan Larson.

I knew that "Rent" was Larson's first major show, written in 1996, so I expected to fall through a rabbit hole of eighteen years worth of musicals, each one better than the one before it. I expected to find interviews of Larson on YouTube, talking of his early days as a struggling composer but now having countless Tony Awards, a modern-day Sondheim. But when I typed in his name, I only found two musicals listed, "Rent" and "tick...tick...BOOM!" the latter being a posthumous, off-broadway release.

The morning of "Rent"'s first off-broadway preview performance on January 25th, 1996, Larson died of an aortic aneurysm at 35-years-old. He never got to see his show go onto a successful Broadway run (12 years to be exact, and the eleventh longest-running Broadway show of all time), win four Tony awards (including best musical), and receive the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (one of only nine musicals to ever receive the honor in the Pulitzer Prize's almost one hundred year history). His previously written one-man show "tick...tick...BOOM!" was rewritten and was given an off-broadway run in 2001.

As a young teenager, this was shocking to me, as it had just dawned on me that you could work your whole life toward a certain goal, and never see it come to fruition. In "Rent," the character Roger sings of his "One Song Glory," and unbeknownst to Larson, he was writing his own. "Rent" remains one of my favorite musicals, even after spending almost six years listening to, what feels like at this point, a hundred different shows. This show spoke for a whole generation, and with it's genius score paired with Larson's story, it has always stuck with me.

It's now 2019. "Rent" premiered twenty-three years ago. Larson, if he were still alive, would be 59. And this year, he came out with a brand new album.

Theatre historian Jennifer Ashley Tepper produced and directed a concert, and later this album, titled "The Jonathan Larson Project." The songs that are included a range from cut songs from "Rent" to music that was written, but never recorded or performed. As I sit here, currently listening to this album, I wonder if Larson was planning another show, some of these songs to be included.

The songs received new orchestrations, and five young, well-known musical theatre actors bring them to life. Krysta Rodriguez, one whose voice I can only describe as a force of nature, shines in her solo pieces, most notably "Out of My Dreams." Andy Mientus' contemporary alternative voice fits so well in "Valentine's Day" (a song that was in a few early versions of "Rent") and "SOS." Three newer actors on my radar, George Salazar, Nick Blaemire, and Lauren Marcus have all blown me away with their performances as well, most notably Salazar's powerful "Iron Mike," Blaemire's bittersweet "One of These Days," and Marcus' hilarious "Hosing the Furniture."

I have to give it to Tepper to putting this all together, and I am so happy that this album can open the floodgates to young theatre fans like I was, discovering Larson's genius.

In the final track, "Piano," you can hear Larson performing a demo of the song before it fades into the modern-day, as if Larson was there, performing with them. Through his artistry, he lives on and will continue to live on years after his death, having left a mark on the world.

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Allegations Of Domestic Abuse Against Johnny Depp Turn Out To Be False

Johnny Depp was framed and it turns out that his now ex-wife was actually the abuser, not the other way around.

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You might have heard last year that Amber Heard, leading female actress in "Aquaman," made allegations over domestic abuse against her then-husband, Johnny Depp. This caused Twitter to "cancel" Johnny Depp, compelling people to boycott his movies, including the latest film from the Harry Potter universe, "Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them." He was even dropped from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise following those allegations.

Recently, however, Johnny Depp has filed a lawsuit against Heard for a whopping 50 million dollars on the counts that the abuse allegations she made were false. In addition, an overwhelming amount of evidence has been presented, including 87 surveillance tapes and 17 sworn eyewitness statements, showing that Heard was the perpetrator of the abuse, not Depp. She even became a "darling of the MeToo movement", a Human Rights Champion of the United Nations Human Rights Office, was appointed ambassador on women's rights at the American Civil Liberties Union, and was hired by L'Oreal Paris as its global spokesperson, as a result of the false allegations, according to the lawsuit from Depp's legal team. Reports say that she even confessed that they were a hoax as well.

It is truly a shame, and I am utterly disgusted at the level of sheer hypocrisy being demonstrated here. Imagine trying to propel your career based upon a mountain of lies and not only that, lies about the abuse that you committed. I honestly don't know how Heard can live with herself, having knowingly ruined someone's life by spreading lies, let alone causing a person such high levels of physical harm on multiple occasions (and on top of that her performance in "Aquaman" was EXTREMELY subpar). What Amber Heard did is just going to be used in favor of those who oppose the MeToo movement, because now there is clear evidence of a female celebrity lying about the abuse. Heard's lies could be used to discredit every woman telling the truth, and especially now we want to and SHOULD believe women. Instead of making things better for women, she has just magnified the damage and has made it increasingly difficult for women in the future to report their abuse because now there will be more speculation.

However, I do also think that it is crucial to think about the double standards we often hold here. Just because women tend to be the victims of abuse more than men does not mean that men do not also suffer abuse. Women should not be blindly believed on every occasion because of that statistic as well. We want so desperately to believe women, yet when Amber Heard claimed to have been abused she was believed without intense further investigations and even put on pedestals for her bravery, despite the fact that Depp's ex-wives had never suffered abuse by him. Perhaps every claim of abuse really should be investigated equally, regardless of the gender of the victim.

I am extremely glad that Johnny Depp was not the abuser because I have always admired his incredible acting and talent. I am glad that my impression of him can remain as good as it was before and that I can give him my full respect again. However, Amber Heard must be treated the same way Depp was when he was accused - full "cancellation."

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James Charles Has Been Exposed And The Receipts Just Keep Coming, Bye Sister

Let the subscriber count continue to fall.

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Unless you live under a rock, you probably have heard about the recent drama revolving around YouTuber and beauty guru James Charles.

Tati Westbrook, a former friend of James and fellow YouTube makeup artist published this video expressing her disappointment and hurt over James' actions.

So, what is the "problem" with James Charles, you may ask? Ah, well, there are a few.

1. He has a history of racist comments.

James tweeted this in 2017 and has since apologized for and deleted it. Everyone messes up from time to time, especially teenagers (which James still is). But, the purpose of this is to illustrate that James has not always had a squeaky clean record. Because of the scandal with Tati Westbrook, James has now lost over 3 million subscribers on YouTube. Why have his past racist comments not made as much of an impact on his career, while the allegations by Tati and others have? It seems like "canceled culture" likes to pick and choose what to take into consideration when "ending" someone's career.

2. He has exhibited predatory behavior.

James slid into the DM's of straight, married model Stephen Harris...

James also has a history of forcing his sexuality on straight men— to the point where he will insist that they are not straight and never will be. Model Stephen Harris shared the above images on his Instagram story, but other models including Jay Alvarrez have come forth with similar claims. Sam Cooke, one of James' most recent interests, has explained in detail his uncomfortable interaction with James in this video. A straight boy who James demonized and called a "con artist" explains how he was manipulated by James in this video.

Tati Westbrook talked briefly in her video "BYE SISTER..." about the predatory behavior James has often shown, but it was only for a few minutes. It was evident that she was uncomfortable discussing this. Nonetheless, she talked about James ruining a dinner by constantly telling those at the table what he would do to the (straight) waiter.

Popular beauty guru Jeffree Star has stated that his husband no longer allows James to come to the couple's home and that the allegations against James are "100% true." Unfortunately, this tweet has since been deleted.

3. He has acted selfishly and betrayed friends.

Tati Westbrook's breaking point with James was when he participated in a brand deal with a company that rivaled one that Westbrook was working with. She has expressed concern over the entitlement that James has and his apparent disregard for friends. James has stated publicly that working in the beauty industry as a male is extremely difficult for him and that his job is very stressful. His portrayal as some sort of martyr has not sat well with many, including Tati. "How entitled do you have to be to think that you have it rough? You are a 19-year-old millionaire. You do not get to wake up and stress out about how unfair your job is. That is so ridiculous to me," are her words from the "BYE SISTER..." video. For some background, Tati acted as a mentor to James when he first entered the beauty industry. Now, Tati has said that she is "afraid of him," and for good reason.

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