Rent is a rock musical, with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson loosely based on Giacomo Puccini's opera La bohème. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York's Alphabet City in the thriving days of the Bohemian East Village under the shadow of AIDS.
Rent, which won an American Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize, was one of the first Broadway musicals to feature lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender characters. In addition, its cast was notably ethnically diverse. Rent brought controversial topics to a traditionally conservative medium, and it helped to increase the popularity of musical theater amongst the younger generation. Rent speaks to Generation X the way that the musical Hair spoke to the baby boomers or those who grew up in the 1960s, calling it "a rock opera for our time, a Hair for the 90s."