Rent is one of the most famous, socially significant and popular shows in Broadway history. The live production is loosely based on a 19th century opera, and premiered in 1996 in front of off-Broadway New York audiences. The plot involves the dramatic lives and struggles of young people living in 1980's Greenwich Village, and their battles with the HIV virus. When it first premiered, the play shook the paradigm of Broadway, becoming the first live show to feature the controversial topic of HIV, and to incorporate gay and lesbian characters into its plot.
Rent's socially important but entertaining story, well developed characters, and original musical score made the play an instant success in 1996. The musical received a permanent residency in Broadway's Nederlander Theatre.