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Second song in the first act of Jonathan Larson's 1995 musical RENT. Spotlight focuses on the answering machine, and separately, on MARK'S MOM. The answering machine has such an important role that it is practically a character in itself. Through this connection with the outside world, we begin to learn about Mark, and why he hides himself behind the camera. The entire piece is done in singsong, acapella. The lyrics have been removed due to copyright restrictions.

ROGER & MARK'S OUTGOING MESSAGE
"Speak" ... ("Beeeep!")

This spartan message simply reinforces the spartan atmosphere we've already been exposed to as part of the bare loft apartment Mark and Roger live in. It's contrasted heavily by the lengthy messages most people leave.

Mark's Mom is portrayed as a stereotypical urban housewife / mother - caring and maternal, and utterly clueless when it comes to what's really going on in her child's life. Note that you never hear from Mark's father. This apparent omission may relate to Mark's choice of occupations, as evidenced in a later piece.

As she leaves her motherly message, she drops details that help set the scene and characterize Mark as a struggling artist. One of her typical "motherisms" is a warning not to leave his new hotplate on when he leaves the house. It's difficult for some of us to imagine, but for many people, "ordinary appliances" are a luxury, not merely a convenience. It has become almost an icon of the struggling artist / actor / college student's life to show them cooking on a hot plate (or worse - warming their hands over it, as the only available source of heat).

As a final thought, Mark's Mom comforts him on his recent loss. He's been dumped by his girlfriend - for another woman! And thus, we gain the first insight to Mark. The love triangles in RENT are almost more complex than a soap opera, but no worse than real life.

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