- 29 Jan 19
When the decision was made to broadcast the LGBTQ-focussed musical Rent, live on Fox, there was a real sense of anticipation. However, fate was about to intervene – and not in a helpful way...
It has become a bit of a phenomenon! Live musicals have been broadcast on television in increasing numbers in recent years. In particular, Fox have taken on some of the most popular Broadway and West End shows, with the stated objective of offering theatre to a wider audience. Previous performances include Hairspray: Live (with Ariana Grande, Dove Cameron and Jennifer Hudson) and Grease: Live (starring Aaron Tveit and Julianne Hough).
This year Fox brought Rent: Live to the silver screen, with a star-studded cast including Keala Settle (from the Greatest Showman), James Leyva, Jordan Fisher and many more.
Although, it appears that this version of Rent wasn't quite as live as audiences expected! Lead actor Brennin Hunt (Rodger) is reported to have injured his foot during the dress rehearsal, ruling him out of any live performance. This ill-timed injury saw the producers make a potentially controversial decision that 'the show must go on'. Well, sort of! What this meant, in effect, was that pre-recorded rehearsal of Rent was aired on prime time TV.
It has been reported that Rent: Live registered the lowest ratings yet for a TV musical – though this has still to be confirmed. So what was the response to the show on Twitter?
Fans of the '90s rock musical shared mixed views on the, ahem, so-called live performance. Not everyone was glowing in their reviews of Rent – to put it mildly – with one immediately making the point that theatres would traditionally have an understudy rehearsed! Not, it seems in this case...
— 🖤 ScharyPearl (Pearl) (@scharypearl) January 28, 2019
A lot of people like to shit on RENT because it was so popular and changed the musical game but it was a huge, unprecedented education moment, especially about LGBTQ people, and I’m glad #RentLive did it justice for a younger audience who has no knowledge of the AIDS crisis.
— Eugene Lee Yang (@EugeneLeeYang) January 28, 2019
introducing the cast of rent live pic.twitter.com/Ei6gDJjw0Z
— cori (@lesbianpameIa) January 28, 2019
choked up sobbing #RentLIVE good grief
— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) January 28, 2019
Why... did Roger not have an understudy? I don’t want to watch a dress rehearsal
— Ira (@ira) January 28, 2019
fox should release the actual #rentlive that they did yesterday for the studio audience on hulu instead of the rehearsal footage. give us what we really wanted to see: a live performance, no matter what.
— kabletown (@kable_town) January 28, 2019
jordan fisher em rent live pic.twitter.com/mNumd5qRS8
— ceci 🍂 (@thatladybennett) January 29, 2019
Most viewers couldn't believe Vanessa Anne Hudgens' perfromance as Maureen. This is Hudgens' second live musical, having also starred in Grease: Live as Rizzo.
I fully believe Vanessa Hudgens knows the entirety of every role in RENT and could perform any one of them at the drop of a hat
— Michael Poppins Returns (@as_seenontv) January 28, 2019
— ᗪᗩᑎII🌻 (@JELENALove4eve) January 28, 2019
— Xavi de jesus (@javierjesi) January 28, 2019
However Rent: Live did feature a 'live' element, as 'Seasons of Love' was later performed by the current cast, along with cast from the 1994 film, Rent. Of course the iconic Idina Menzel gave a stellar solo performance, reprising her role as Maureen. Watch the clip below.