Updated: Monday, January 28, 2019, 1 pm PT
It’s the 20th anniversary of Jonathan Larson’s tour de force, Rent, and Fox is bringing the show live to primetime. Or at least trying to air the show live in primetime: During dress rehearsal in front of a live studio audience on Saturday night, star Brennin Hunt, who plays rocker Roger, broke his foot near the end of the performance and had to be rushed to the hospital. As a result, he was unable to perform the role on Sunday night, forcing Fox to air most of the pre-taped show from Saturday night.
But at least Fox had that performance in the bag, effectively saving the whole event.
Rent kicked off with a pre-taped performance and then cut to the cast telling the audience what had happened and why the show would mostly not be live. The finale, however, was live when many members of Rent‘s original cast—including Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs and Jesse L. Martin—joined the current cast on stage to sing Seasons of Love, including solos from Menzel and Martin.
For those who missed the show—or loved it—Sony released a soundtrack of the show that’s available on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, iTunes and YouTube.
To promote the show, Fox on Friday released a few conversations with the actors on the iconic characters they are playing.
Hunt’s Roger is a musician who is dying of AIDS and reluctantly falls for Mimi, who also is dying but still holds her enthusiasm for life:
Tinashe plays Mimi, an exotic dancer and heroine addict who ends up romantically involved with Roger:
And Vanessa Hudgens plays performance artist and bisexual Maureen, in a role that was made famous by Menzel in Rent’s original Broadway run:
The show also stars Valentina as drag queen and drummer Angel, who forms an instant love bond with Collins (Hamilton and Jesus Christ Superstar Live‘s Brandon Victor Dixon). Jordan Fisher plays Mark, a videographer and Roger’s roommate, who also serves as the audience’s escort into the world of these bohemian artists.
Kiersey Clemons plays Maureen’s new girlfriend Joanne, who is struggling with everything it means to love the charismatic, if flaky, Maureen, ex-girlfriend of Mark. And R&B singer Mario plays Benny, the former bohemian who has sold out to corporate America and is now threatening his former friends and roommates with eviction.
“I think it’s necessary now more than ever, and I think hearing the messages of Rent are more relevant than ever,” executive producer Julie Larson told The Hollywood Reporter. “Especially for a new generation. To me, it’s always been about community and tolerance and being authentic and finding your authentic self and about empathy and inclusion and love. All those things are necessary now more than ever and relevant always. But in some times, I think you need to hear that stuff more than others.”
The primetime version of the reimagining of Puccini’s La Bohème is set in New York City’s East Village during the AIDS crisis. It’s executive produced by Marc Platt, who was behind Fox’s 2016 production of Grease: Live; as well as Adam Siegel; the late Larson’s sister, Julie Larson; Al Larson; and Revolution Studios’ Vince Totino, Scott Hemming and Marla Levine.
The show was originally produced by New York Theatre Workshop and on Broadway by Jeffrey Seller, Kevin McCollum, Allan S. Gordon and New York Theatre Workshop.
Rent airs Sunday, Jan. 27 live at 8 p.m. for the East Coast and tape-delayed for the West Coast.