Thomas Jefferson High School drama students perform 'Rent.' (Photo By Karl Gehring/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Channel surfing a few nights ago, I alighted on PBS and had the unexpected thrill of hearing a familiar tune that wasn’t from the Peter, Paul and Mary or Temptations catalogs. The song was “Without You,” a ballad from Jonathan Larson’s “Rent.” The singer was Leslie Odom Jr., the Tony-winning, erstwhile Aaron Burr of “Hamilton,” in concert at the Lincoln Center’s Appel Room. “Without You” is a conventional torch song in the “world-will-go-on-without-you-but-I don’t-really-know-why” vein. What was unconventional about it was how comfortably it fit into the 1996 score about artists in the East Village struggling with self-imposed poverty, AIDS,…

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