Dramaturg says she was more than 'editor' of hit tuner

NEW YORK – The dramaturg who has sued the estate of the late Jonathan Larson for a share of the “Rent” profits was more than merely an “editor,” her lawyer said in response to a statement released by Larson’s father.

Lynn M. Thomson filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in Manhattan’s U.S. District Court Nov. 25, claiming that, in her role as dramaturg for the New York Theater Workshop’s Off Broadway production of “Rent,” she helped Larson shape the musical’s theme, plot, characters, story and language. The suit seeks 16% of the “Rent” profits. The suit claims total revenue generated by the Pulitzer Prize-winning tuner could eventually exceed $1 billion.

Vow to fight

In response to the suit, Allan Larson, the playwright’s father and executor, issued a statement saying Thomson “served the show as an editor would serve a novelist.” He vowed to fight the suit.

But Russell Smith, Thomson’s lawyer, responded that his client’s contribution “went far beyond that of editing language written by another.” He said that Thomson’s case is “rare” among dramaturgs, and that she “crossed the line between muse and creator, between an idea person and an artist.”

The lengthy lawsuit offers examples of Thomson’s contributions, including, the suit claims, writing a “large part” of the musical’s Joanne character, helping to “refashion” the title song, and her suggestion to Larson that an early draft of the musical, written in a “collage” structure, incorporate “a strong story line with clear, forward-moving, dramatic action.”

Thomson, a drama professor at New York U., was paid $2,000 for her nine months of full-time dramaturgical work. She is now seeking 16% of all revenues received by Larson’s estate, which the suit says will eventually be in excess of $250 million

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