Stage Door Dish’s Book Club: ‘Without You’ Discussion Post for Week #1

Rapp and Pascal

Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal

When I began reading Without You, I expected Anthony Rapp to dive right into a behind-the-scenes look at Rent. And although there was some insight, including the conception of “What You Own”, one of my personal favorite songs from the rock musical, Rapp’s audition and bits and pieces of the early formation of the show, the first 90 pages which was week one’s book club assignment focused heavily on Rapp’s complicated family dynamics. In particular, most of the introduction to the novel focused heavily on his relationship with his mother as she underwent cancer treatment for a tumor otherwise known as “Wild Bill.”

Additionally I found myself wavering between reading the book as if I was learning about one of my favorite Broadway performers and fictional characters. Surely Rapp, who I have always envisioned a bit like Mark (and he confirms such in several instances), wouldn’t be so harsh to his ill mother, would he?

So, instead of dodging the bullet and talking about the niceties, I’m deeply interested in what all of you thought about what Rapp disclosed about his relationship with his mother, his admittance that Twister was hardly a project he found much (or any) personal value in and whether Rapp, who we all know and love, matches your ideas for him.

So, without further ado, here are this week’s questions:

What do you make of Rapp’s relationship with his mother? Do you think he’s too harsh on her?

What did you find most interesting or shocking about Rapp’s relationship with his family?

Do you think it was unfair that Rapp felt like he couldn’t up and leave the city to return home? Why or why not?

Rapp makes mention that his mother viewed him as a “savior” for a few coincidences that ultimately saved his family’s lives. Do you believe in that notion or do you think it was just dumb luck that Rapp’s family was able to avoid the tragedy of murder and natural disaster?

What do you make of Jonathan Larson’s early relationship with Rapp? Do you see the influence that Larson would ultimately have on Rapp already beginning to blossom?

What are you most looking forward to reading in the novel? Which Rent cast member are you most looking forward to reading about?

Please feel free to leave your own questions for other book club members to respond to!

The next assignment will be to read to page 189 by next Monday. 

Tags: , ,

About Samantha S.

"I found the theatre and I found my home.” ― Audra McDonald
Subscribe to Comments RSS Feed in this post

One Response

  1. Rapp’s relationship with his mother is told in an unadorned, honest way. Truthfully, it seems like at that age he lacks the perspective to see past his own hangups to communicate with his mom, but it’s a very regular reaction to sickness.
    Most interesting about the family was the grandparents. That’s a background that can reach across the years for good and bad.
    Rapp, like most young people, are busy trying to make it. Again, it may not be right but knowing what is right at that time is rarely easy.
    The ‘savior’ stories are really interesting. Imagine having that sort of identity from a young age. Luck and coincidence in retrospect usually seem two sides to the same coin.
    In the memoir, I am most looking forward to learning more about ‘Rent.’ Learning about Michael Greif and the crew’s sense of artistry and direction sounds fascinating.

    What did everyone think about Rapp’s portrayal of the creative team of ‘Rent’ (Larson, Greif, Tim, etc.)?