Cast of Rent joins in memorial for dead lawmaker

March 15, 2019

HARTFORD — A flash mob of the cast of the musical Rent turned into an impromptu memorial for state Rep. Ezequiel Santiago on Friday, before thousands of people gathered in the vast atrium of the Legislative Office Building.

Spectators jammed shoulder-to-shoulder on the first floor and along the four upper balconies when the noontime event, scheduled to raise AIDS awareness, became a family mourning session for dozens of lawmakers, who cried and hugged, remembering Santiago, 45, who died suddenly earlier in the day from a suspected heart attack.

About 20 members of the touring cast of the rock musical sang the show-stopping “Seasons of Love,” in an appearance first scheduled to support legislation that would make it easier for people to obtain a drug found to help prevent the HIV virus. But when news of Santiago’s death reached lawmakers, it quickly turned into a emotional moment of silence, and musical tribute for him.

kdixon@ctpost.com Twitter: @KenDixonCT