A theatre group in Manila blatantly staged a their production of Rent under a different name to avoid having to pay or get permission to put it on.
Rent remains one of the most celebrated and acclaimed American musicals of our time. Chronicling the lives of struggling Bohemians in the midst of the AIDs crisis, it is a popular choice for high schools, colleges, touring companies, and local theatre companies.
Still, it can be difficult to obtain the rights for a celebrated musical. One often has to go through the hurdles of paying a fee to the playwright (or in the case of the late Jonathan Larson, their estate) or work’s publisher, and obtaining permission to stage and charge money for their production.
UP Manila Dramatista at the University of the Philippines – Manila gave no ****s about the proper protocol, and staged a show titled “Measure In Love.”
“Measure In Love'” is actually a lyric from Rent’s iconic song “Seasons of Love.” That’s right, UP Manila Dramatista actually took a line from the show’s most famous song to retitle it. Imagine a production of Mamma Mia called “Dancing Queen” or Wicked called “Defying Gravity,” or Mulan called “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You.”
In most cases, when a school cannot obtain the rights to a show, they might put on an abridged version of the piece or advertise that they are only performing vocal selections from it. The average cost to perform a musical licensed by Music Theatre International (MTI) is roughly $1,318 – $1,783.
So while normally, a mostly Asian production of an American musical with rotating talent would be super cool, “Measure In Love” is a clear infringement of copyright and a dishonor to Rent‘s late creator.
While the show went up a couple years ago, it has recently achieved viral infamy when people began to connect the dots regarding characters and moments. One social media promo describes the character of Roger on Avenue B– a dead giveaway.
Naturally, multiple references and mentions to the production have since been scrubbed from the Internet, though vestiges of UP Manila Dramatista’s artistic robbery can be found on Pinterest if you look hard enough. UP Manila Dramatista have also deactivated or locked down their social media accounts.
It would be a shame if they had to pay up after going through all that trouble.