‘Rent’ Cast Talks ‘Pressure’ To Deliver Fox Live Musical

RENT: L-R: Mario as Benjamin Coffin III, Jordan Fisher as Mark Cohen, Tinashe as Mimi Marquez, Brennin Hunt as Roger Davis, Vanessa Hudgens as Maureen Johnson, Kiersey Clemons as Joanne Jefferson, Brandon Victor Dixon as Tom Collins and Valentina as Angel Dumont Schunard in RENT airing Sunday, Jan. 27 (8:00-11:00 ET/PT) on FOX.
Pamela Littky / Fox Broadcasting

After months of preparation, the cast of Rent Live on Fox will debut their version of the popular Broadway smash on Sunday, January 27, featuring a cast that includes Jordan Fisher, Vanessa Hudgens, and Brandon Victor Dixon.

The Hollywood Reporter revealed that the cast is under “pressure” to deliver a stellar performance of the beloved Tony-winning musical written by the late Jonathan Larson.

Rent was set in a changing political time starring a diverse group of young people that represented a true cross-section of America’s demographics. The musical, which opened in 1996, inspired one of the most passionate fanbases ever and the cast is cognizant of that fact, hoping to deliver a performance that even the most die-hard Rent-head would be proud of.

Rent is set in New York’s East Village in the ’90s and follows a group of 20-something starving artists who are struggling with identity, sexuality, addiction, and HIV/AIDS.

As they prepare for Sunday’s production, Hollywood Reporter spoke to Rent stars Jordan Fisher and Vanessa Hudgens and learned of the biggest challenges they are facing as this production readies itself to go live and their own history regarding the musical.

Jordan Fisher told THR that when he was just 10-years-old, his dream was to play the first “Mark Cohen” of color on Broadway. The character of Mark is the narrator of the play, a young man born into privilege and who does not struggle with either the addictions or diseases of his fellow East Village counterparts.

“The essence of Mark for me is, as the narrator of the story, to allow America [and] anybody that’s watching the show to go on this journey with him through his eyes, through the lens of his camera, and to see what he really deals with,” the actor told THR.

“My Mark is a bit more of a caretaker than we’ve seen in the past, somebody that is really the glue that just tries his best to hold everybody together,” he said. That desire stems from “his innate yearning for a community and sense of family.”

Vanessa Hudgens, who will portray Maureen, the role made famous by Idina Menzel on both the Broadway stage and in the film adaptation of the musical, revealed that her love for theater is what drives her to be at her best. Hudgens is no stranger to live TV musicals, as one of the brightest stars of Fox’s Grease Live and getting her start in the triple series of Disney’s High School Musical franchise.

“It’s been so much fun finding Maureen within myself because she is loud and she loves being the center of attention, and I am a performer. I love having all eyes on me. She expresses herself in a way that is unique to her own, and she’s an artist, and I feel like that’s what I aspire to be like as well,” she remarked.

Rent Live will debut live over three hours on Sunday, January 27, beginning at 8 p.m. EST.