‘Rent’ Injury Makes Live TV Production Mostly Not So
A highly publicized television production of the musical “Rent,” which was supposed to be performed live on Sunday, was forced to broadcast material shot the night before, the actors said in a prerecorded video during the three-hour event.
The announcement forced the cast to embrace one of the central mantras of a beloved musical about struggling East Village artists living in the shadow of AIDS: “No day but today.”
In a brief prerecorded video before a commercial break, a cast member confirmed that one of its lead actors, Brennin Hunt, had broken his foot and would not perform. Earlier Sunday, a spokesman for Fox said that Mr. Hunt, who plays Roger — one of the show’s central characters — had been injured while performing on Saturday.
“Most of what you’ll see tonight will come from last night’s performance,” Jordan Fisher, who plays Mark, said during the prerecorded video. Mr. Fisher added that the cast members had “railed together to rework the final act” so they could perform it live with Mr. Hunt as well as with the original Broadway cast from the 1996 show.
Neither he nor other cast members — the cast includes Tinashe, Vanessa Hudgens and Brandon Victor Dixon — detailed exactly how they would use Saturday’s performance to aid Sunday’s television broadcast. Asked for additional clarity, a Fox spokeswoman declined to comment further. The Hollywood Reporter said that the cast has no understudies and that Fox would use “some taped parts from Saturday’s dress rehearsal during Sunday’s live broadcast.”
Separate video apparently recorded on Sunday from inside a studio appeared to show “Rent” being performed live, and differently from what was being shown on television.
In one video posted on Twitter, Mr. Hunt appears to be performing the song “Another Day” on stage, in a wheelchair, while a video of him performing without injury is playing on a television screen nearby.
Just before 11 p.m. Sunday, the television version of the musical appeared to be live, as Mr. Hunt took the stage near Tinashe with his ankle and foot in a cast. His leg was propped up on the back of a chair as he serenaded Tinashe, whose character, Mimi, is near death in the final scene.
After Tinashe’s character was revived, the cast sang the finale, and then was joined by members of the original Broadway show — such as Anthony Rapp, Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs — to together belt the musical’s most recognizable anthem, “Seasons of Love.”
Jonathan Larson’s enduring musical was immortalized when he died of an aortic aneurysm just before its opening night Off Broadway. For many, his death makes the words sung during the show’s finale — “no day but today” — all the more poignant.
In a statement provided by Fox, Julie Larson, Mr. Larson’s sister, said: “The experience of putting together this beautiful new production of my brother’s work, while emotional, has been truly joyous for all of us.
“This new cast has embodied the spirit of the show from day one and they embraced Brennin with positive and uplifting love in his moment of need,” she said.
“‘Rent’ has always been about resilience and community,” she added. “We can’t wait for a new generation to experience Jonathan’s legacy.”
Sunday’s show is co-directed by Michael Greif, who oversaw the musical’s premiere at New York Theater Workshop, then on Broadway. In a 1996 review, Ben Brantley, the New York Times theater critic, called “Rent” an “exhilarating, landmark rock opera.”
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