Okay so this one is a bit of a cheat, but it’s technically a made for television movie musical so I will count it in. I’m a theatre musical junkie and RENT has always been one of those musical that I just never got enough. So for this live version, I had high expectation. It never could have lived up to them really, especially after it was announced that Brennin Hunt, who portrayed Rogers, broke his foot during dress rehearsal. Instead of cancelling or postponing the show, or even have an understudy, the producers decided to air the pre-recorded rehearsal.
RENT Live could have been great, it had the cast for that but because you could tell a lot of the performers were saving their voice for the live show, it just falls short. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t without its standout. Just like in Jesus Christ Superstar, Brandon Victor Dixon proves the star power he truly has. And just like in Grease Live, Vanessa Hudgens showcases a talent that many don’t give her enough credit for. And Tinashe surprised me so much, she was one of my favourite part of the whole show. Funny enough, Brennin Hunt for me was the low point of the show. I never truly cared for his Rogers.
RENT Live doesn’t feel like it belongs on FOX and you can’t tell it censored itself. The camera work was weird at times, and I often told the audience to shut up in my living room. It’s something weird, because can we truly judge a dress rehearsal but at the same time by airing it, the production told us to do so. It’s a thing that during the whole show I simply wanted them to just have decided to go with an understudy. Someone told me that why these shows work is for the star power but the problem is that Brennin Hunt is not that, yes he is an established singer but compared to people like Tinashe, Brandon Victor Dixon, Kiersey Clemons, Vanessa Hudgens and Valentina.
I wish RENT Live had found another solution than the one they did but I can’t do anything about that. I enjoyed it because it’s Rent but I wished I did more. I have to admit that I did shed a little tear at the end when this production and the original Broadway cast singing together. It was everything I wanted and more.