Allan Larson, father of the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer of Rent, has died. The news was confirmed by Lin-Manuel Miranda (director of the Netflix film adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical musical Tick, Tick…Boom!) on Twitter December 31, 2021.
"Faced with unimaginable loss, he made his son's legacy his life's work," said Miranda in the tweet announcing Larson's death. "For years, anywhere Jon's work premiered in the world, Al would be there to tell the assembled casts about his son Jonathan. Rest in peace, Al. Thank you for your trust & friendship. Miss you already. -LMM"
Allan Larson, along with his wife Nanette and daughter Julie, created the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation in 1997, using royalties from Rent to support other struggling writers.
"When Jonathan died and Rent burst forth, I—speaking just for myself—was in a total stupor. Because all I knew was: Jonnie was dead. And [Rent] started to report earnings that nobody had been anticipating—other than Jon. And, frankly, in my head at that point, this was Jonnie's, this was his. This was money for Jon and he wasn't there to spend it. But how would he want to see it used? He was a great one for… helping each other and loving each other. So I said, let's start giving some help to others that were in the same boat Jon had been in all those years," Mr. Larson said in a 2016 interview with Playbill.
The American Theatre Wing took over for the Foundation in 2008, where it continues now as the Jonathan Larson Grants, awarded unconditionally each year to early career musical theatre composers, lyricists, and librettists, or writing teams.
For years, Allan Larson traveled and met with new casts of Rent, from Broadway to national tours to international premieres, sharing the story of his son and Jonathan's traditional "Peasant's Feast" with the newcomers. "My dad didn't want it to be 'just another gig' for the people involved, so sharing some of ourselves and Jon was important," said Julie Larson in the 2016 Playbill interview.
Allan Larson is preceded in death by his wife Nanette in 2018.